Study: more women serving on corporate boards – but not enough

The Canadian Board Diversity Council says positions held by women were up one and a half percent from last year – to just 17.1 percent.

TORONTO – A new study suggests that while number of women on the boards of top Canadian companies is improving, there still is ”significant work to be done.”

The study by the Canadian Board Diversity Council shows women held 17.1 per cent of the positions on boards on the Financial Post 500 list.

The organization says that was up from 15.6 per cent in 2013 and reflects a pace of change of more than four times the average between 2001 and 2012.

However, the council says visible minorities and aboriginals on boards are at their lowest level since the survey began in 2010.

It says visible minorities hold only two per cent of board seats, aboriginals hold just 0.8 per cent of the seats and people with disabilities fill just 1.4 per cent.

The council is calling on corporate boards to consider three board-ready diverse candidates for each open board seat. It also asks boards to replace at least one of every three retiring directors with a director of a diverse background.

“We’re making progress, with more women than ever before sitting on Canada’s corporate boards, but it’s simply not enough,” said CBDC founder Pamela Jeffery.

“We’re still not seeing substantial progress, particularly in other areas of diversity, including aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and people with disabilities, despite the fact that there are many highly qualified candidates out there.”

The study also says while most directors feel their boards are already diverse, only 25 per cent of FP500 boards report having a formal diversity policy in place.

To conduct the survey, the CBDC compiled a list of every director on an FP500 board using public data and through a survey conducted on line and by mail.

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