Proposed “disclose-or-explain” rules could help increase the number of Alberta women in positions of corporate leadership.
The Alberta Securities Commission has proposed a rule change that would require Alberta-based, non-venture issuers, including companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), to disclose the number of women on their boards and in executive management, and to describe any related policies or targets.
“In 2015, our government made history by appointing the country’s first-ever gender-balanced cabinet. Today, we applaud the Alberta Securities Commission for advancing our work to help increase the number of Alberta women in leadership roles. It’s time we achieve gender balance at all decision-making tables in Alberta – including corporate boardrooms – and this is an important step.”
Conference Board of Canada research shows that companies with women on boards and in senior roles have a competitive edge – they are more profitable, make better decisions and are more innovative.
In 2015, women held only nine per cent of board positions on Alberta-based, TSX-listed companies.
“These disclosure requirements enhance transparency for shareholders and provide them with information they may find helpful in making investment and voting decisions.”
“I’m pleased Alberta’s securities regulator is asking our public companies to develop policies to ensure they are pursuing the best candidates for board positions. I know there are qualified women out there, but they’re not being found. This will ensure our public companies are considering more women for these positions of influence.”
Women make up nearly half of the Canadian workforce, yet only one-quarter hold senior management positions and fewer than 16 per cent serve as directors. Close to half of publicly traded companies in Canada do not have women on their boards.
In addition to gender representation, the proposed rule change would require companies to include term-limit details or other mechanisms of board renewal in their public disclosure. The suggested changes are subject to a 30-day comment period.
The Alberta government currently takes gender balance into account as part of its decision-making in board appointments at provincial agencies, boards and commissions.
The proposed rules would require non-venture issuers to disclose on an annual basis:
- the number and percentage of women on the issuer’s board of directors and in executive officer positions
- director term limits or other mechanisms of board renewal
- policies relating to the identification and nomination of female directors
- consideration of the representation of women in the director identification and nomination process and in executive officer appointments
- targets for women on boards and in executive officer positions
If a non-venture issuer has not adopted the mechanisms, policies or targets outlined above, or does not consider the representation of women, the issuer must explain its reasons for not doing so.