Gender equality elusive in boardrooms: Study

Private companies have seen largest growth in proportion of women directors

Women continue to make very slow progress when it comes to sitting on the boards of Canada's largest companies, according to a new study.

The proportion of women on boards of directors of Financial Post 500 companies has only increased by one percentage point in the last two years, according to the 2009 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Board Directors.

The study found women hold just 14 per cent of director positions in the FP500, up from 13 per cent two years ago.

Moreover, the study showed that nearly 45 per cent of public companies have no women board directors at all.

“Corporate Canada must recognize that, competitively, they are playing with ‘half a deck’ when they ignore the marketplace and workforce and overlook appointing women to board service,” said Deborah Gillis, Catalyst’s vice-president, North America.

“In 2010, the argument that companies can’t find women to sit on boards simply doesn’t work. Catalyst research shows that looking beyond company heads — 21 women currently lead FP500 companies — to the broader corporate officer pool expands by more than 30 times the number of qualified women available for board service.”

As in 2007, in 2009, crown companies had the highest representation of women on their boards while public companies had the lowest.

Private companies saw the biggest boost, where the percentage of women board directors increased four percentage points (12 per cent in 2007 to 16 per cent in 2009).

The arts, entertainment and recreation industry led in representation of women board directors, while the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry had the lowest.

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