Gender Diversity on Boards

 In Executive & Board Compensation

WCBC’s Board of Directors Compensation Survey which includes 289 publicly-traded companies contains data on corporate governance, directors’ cash & equity compensation, board policies and total compensation costs. Below is an excerpt from Section 2: Corporate Governance


In 2014 securities regulators in most provinces and territories adopted a new disclosure requirement for Canadian issuers relating to gender diversity on boards of directors. The rules are intended to increase transparency for investors and other stakeholders but do not mandate the adoption of formal diversity policies and/or targets.

Eighty-six percent of the companies have at least one female board member. This is an increase of 6% over the previous year. There has been a steady upward trend over the past seven years in the percentage of companies with female directors. The average board of directors has two female directors. Six percent of companies have a female board chair.

Only 1% of companies failed to address diversity policies in their most recent management information circular. Over half (58%) of the companies have adopted a written policy on board diversity while the remaining 41% considered adopting a formal policy but declined to implement one.

As shown below, the percentage of companies with women represented on the board or companies which have adopted a written diversity policy depends largely on the size of the company:

Company Revenue Size
($ millions)
% of Companies With At Least
One Female Board Member
% of Companies Adopting
Written Diversity Policies
All Companies 86% 58%
$100 or Less 64% 36%
$100 – $500 68% 56%
>$500 – $1,000 83% 53%
>$1,000 – $2,500 94% 63%
>$2,500 – $5,000 93% 53%
More than $5,000 100% 69%

Of those companies adopting a written policy on gender diversity, 36% have set a specific target (29% average, 30% median) for the proportion of the board comprised of women. However, only 11% of companies are currently meeting those targets.

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