Knowledge Center

Catalyst has been tracking the representation of women in corporate governance in Canada since 1998. The census lists women board directors alphabetically by company, and provides lists of the numbers of women directors and total directors by company revenue, industry, province/territory, Canadian-owned versus foreign-owned companies.

Impetus:
In 1998, Catalyst began to produce an annual census to clarify the status of women on the boards of the largest companies in Canada. This report marks the fourth census of women board directors in Canada and provides a snapshot of both corporate accomplishment and of work yet to be done.

Methodology:

  • Catalyst analyzed the board directors of each company in the Financial Post 500, which included publicly traded companies, privately held companies, crown corporations, and co-operatives.
  • In June 2005, Catalyst sent letters to our contact for each company to verify the total number of board directors as well as the name, gender, and profession of each director. Our verification rate in 2005 was 88.8 percent.
  • For those companies that did not take the opportunity to verify the data, Catalyst has reported the unverified data we obtained from public records.
  • Research teams audited all data multiple times, comparing printouts from the database with the verification from companies and public records to ensure accuracy.
  • The report represents the gender diversity of corporate governance at FP500 companies as of June 3, 2005.

Findings:
In 2005, the story of women in corporate governance in Canada continued to be the same as in previous years: slow growth. Women held 12.0 percent of all board seats among the FP500 companies, up from 11.2 percent in 2003. Public companies, as a whole, made no progress in adding women to their boards—the percentage of women board directors at these companies increased only 0.2 points from 9.0 percent in 2003 to 9.2 percent in 2005. Furthermore, the number of companies with a critical mass of women in the boardroom (i.e., 25 percent or more) only increased by one, from 62 companies in 2003 to 63 companies in 2005, and the proportion of women committee chairs remained unchanged. However, there are some small signs of progress. For example, in 2005 there was an increase in the number of companies with at least one woman on their board from 48.6 percent in 2003 to 52.8 percent in 2005; an increase in the number of companies with multiple women board directors since 2001 to 25.8 percent; an increase in the percentage of seats held by women at crown corporations, up 5.2 points to 28.9 percent, and an increase in the number of women chairing boards, now five companies chaired by women up from three companies. Finally, although seats held by women accounted for 13.5 percent of board positions that were vacated between 2003 and 2005, this number was more than offset by the 16.3 percent of open board positions that were filled by women.

Sponsors: Chubb Insurance Company of Canada , Hudson's Bay Co., Inco Ltd., ING Canada Inc., KPMG LLP,  Linamar Corporation, Scotiabank