Originally published: June 10, 2016
In 2016 women should not still be battling to be named to boards of directors. After all, research from Catalyst, a non-profit organization that advocates for women in the workplace, shows naming women to boards is profitable. It found companies with three or more women directors in at least four of five years significantly out-performed those with sustained low representation by an astonishing 84 per cent on return on sales, 60 per cent on return on invested capital, and 46 per cent on return on equity.
That alone should be reason enough to name more women to boards of directors. But it hasn’t been. Nor has a voluntary push adopted by the Ontario government in December 2014 called the “comply or explain” regulation. It required companies listed on the TSX to report publicly on the number of women on their boards and to explain, if there weren’t any, why not.
But by last September the results of that nudge had proved beyond disappointing. Only 49 per cent of companies had even one woman on their board. Further, only 15 per cent had added one or more women to their boards in 2015, despite “comply or explain.” Worse, only 14 per cent of 722 reporting companies had a formal plan in place for promoting women to their boards and a dismal 7 per cent had set specific targets.