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Are boards in Canada actually getting more diverse?

Last October the Canadian Securities Regulators (CSA) released their eighth annual review of representation of women on boards and in executive officer positions in Canada. While the headlines were interesting, they weren’t that inspiring. “Twenty-four per cent of board seats are held by women”, a measly increase of two per cent since last year. While 24% is arguably not terrible, it isn’t anything to cheer about either. In fact, it is only marginally higher than the global average of 20%, as reported by Deloitte.

Digging deeper, we found a fairly remarkable statistic – that the percentage of board vacancies filled by women in Canada was at a staggering 45% last year. This is for virtually all publicly traded companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It is also notable that this is 10% higher than the previous year. So, it may well be that things are changing more quickly than the top-line numbers suggest. We can’t wait to see what next year’s number will be.

It is also worth noting that while Canada pursues its approach to diversity through transparency and disclosure, and some engagement tactics from our largest pensions, other jurisdictions are pursuing more aggressive tactics. Just one month after the CSA report, the EU adopted legislation requiring all large publicly listed companies to have at least 40% of non-executive director positions, or 33% of all director positions, occupied by women by the end of June 2026. There are even penalties for those not complying.

There are no national quotas in place for women on boards in the United States, but there are a number of state measures that seek to help increase women’s representation, including California and Washington that have minimum requirements for women representation.

The topic of corporate diversity is a key part of how we select companies for our portfolios at Honeytree. We look at board diversity, both gender and racial, leadership diversity and workforce diversity data in all parts of our research. We believe year over year progress in diversity statistics not only shows the positive impact companies make on their workforce and communities, but also demonstrates competent ledearship that is able to enact change. Organizations that struggle to improve their gender or racial diversity don't struggle because of lack of available diverse candidates, they struggle due to lack of commitment and ability to execute.

[The image shows an empty board room with black leather chairs and a wood topped table, behind a glass wall]


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