Canadian women are slowly pushing open the doors to Canada's corporate boardrooms and taking a seat at the table of some of the largest companies in the world. In the 2001 Catalyst Census: Women Board Directors in Canada released today, Catalyst found that women now hold 9.8 per cent of all board seats among the Financial Post 500 (FP500) companies, up from 6.2 per cent in 1998 when Catalyst began counting women on boards among Canada's largest companies.
"We have seen a spike in the number of women on boards since Catalyst started tracking what is happening in Canada's boardrooms," said Susan Black, Vice President of Catalyst Canada. "Although there has been an increase over the last 3 years, much of the increase can be attributed to the change in the makeup of the FP500 to include crown corporations, financial institutions, and insurance companies. As a group, these types of companies have a significantly higher percentage of women on their boards."
While nearly half (48.6%) of the FP500 companies now have at least one woman board director, an even larger number (51.4%) of companies have no women at the board table. "Of the FP 500, 257 companies in Canada have no women on their board of directors," Black said. "We have clearly not cracked the glass ceiling yet, but women are slowly chipping away at it. One company and one seat at a time."
Segments of corporate Canada are beginning to take notice that women in the boardroom do make a difference. Fifty-two (10.4%) FP500 companies have 25 per cent or more women directors. In addition, 8.6 per cent of the companies have three or more women directors, compared to 2.6 per cent in 1998.
Crown Corporations outpace all other company types with a 23.6 per cent representation of women on their boards. Some of the industries that lead the pack in numbers of women include food & drugstores with 19 per cent and the publishing and printing industry with 18 per cent women. Conversely, the breweries, beverages and distillers industry and environmental services have no women board directors.
Women on Corporate Boards in the FP 500: Regional Differences Breakout
"The 2001 Catalyst census finds that Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have the highest percentages of FP500 women directors and that New Brunswick and Newfoundland have the lowest," said Black. "However, few companies are actually headquartered in these provinces."
History of the Catalyst Census
Each year since 1993, Catalyst has conducted a census of the Fortune 500 to count how many women serve on corporate boards in the United States. Each census in the U.S. and Canada serves as a marker of accomplishment and of work yet to be done. In this second census of women on boards in Canada, sponsored by Bank of Montreal, Bell Canada, Bombardier inc., Deloitte & Touche LLP, McKinsey & Company, NOVA Chemicals, and Scotiabank, Catalyst provides for the second time a look at corporate governance in Canada's largest companies.
The 2001 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors represents gender diversity of corporate governance at FP500 companies as of June 1, 2001. The Catalyst research team compiles the information based on publicly available data, then audits and verifies the data with the human resources and corporate secretary's office of each of the FP500 companies to ensure accuracy.
About Catalyst: Catalyst is a nonprofit research and advisory organization working to advance women in business and the professions, with offices in New York, California and Toronto. The leading source of information on women in business for the past four decades, Catalyst has the knowledge and tools that help employers and women maximize their potential. Our solutions-oriented approach-through research, Advisory Services, Corporate Board Placement, and the Catalyst Award-has earned the confidence of global business leaders. For additional information or to obtain a copy of this report, please visit our web site at www.catalystwomen.org or call 416-815-7600.