Minister Rona Ambrose is chairwoman of a new committee of business executives studying women on boards. The committee is looking to boost the number of women on corporate boards in Canada. “I wanted action-oriented recommendations for the government to immediately act on. We have had enough studies and enough reports” Ms Ambrose said in an interview.
According to the research organization Catalyst, women make up 47% of the Canadian labor force but only 14% of board seats among the 500 largest Canadian companies surveyed by the Financial Post.
The advisory council is comprised of women and men representing a wide range of experience within the corporate sector.
Its mandate is to:
•Provide advice on how industry can increase women’s representation on corporate boards;
•Suggest how industry and government can track and measure progress in this initiative and what tools, if any, government should employ to achieve this goal; and,
•Make recommendations on how the government could recognize leaders in industry and applaud companies that have succeeded in reaching their targets.
The advisory council is expected to make its recommendations by the fall of 2013.
Setting out legal quotas for boards is not the only way to make progress. But it helps. What is measured can be improved. In fact, 5,977 companies in 45 countries found that quotas and legislative pressure have helped Europe post double-digit gains in women directors over the past decade.
What is the added-value of a greater representation of women on boards?
1.Female corporate directors make better decisions on complex issues than men, raising questions about whether boards are doing a disservice to investors when they include no women, a new study argues.
2.A review of decision-making processes used by 624 Canadian corporate directors found women scored higher on average on sophisticated “complex moral reasoning” skills, which suggests they make better decisions on complicated matters. That skill is inbred in women much more so than it is in men.
3.Women on boards bring different perspectives to the difficult issues facing today’s corporations. It is widely believed that diversity of thought result in better decision making.
4.Senior women executives offer the skills and experience that most boards need, including industry knowledge, operational experience, and functional expertise. There is a huge, untapped pool of talent.
5.Having more women on Boards means a greater diversity of skills, experiences, opinions and strategies – and that means better governance. And better governance inevitably means better results.
What delays the change?
1.The prospect of sharing the boardroom with people who may change in existing culture, or alter the way things have always been done, including the type of humor shared and language used.
2.Without a history of Board service, many women find it hard to prove a “track record” – and the cycle continues, with inexperience being both the justification for and the result of keeping women off Boards.
3.For someone to gain power, someone else has to lose it.
The business case is simple: Women are the future. Women are the future talent pool of most organizations, women continue to be the ‘future client’ of most organizations.
Stay tuned to the future of women representation on boards in Canada.