March 9, 2012 by Deborah Gillis
Sometimes, pointing out the problem is not enough. You have to be part of the solution.
We’re marking International Women’s Day 2012 by doing both. The problem? The 2011 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Board Directors shows that women’s representation on FP500 boards has increased by a mere half a percentage point from 2009 to 14.5%. Nearly 40% of FP500 companies have no women on their boards, and more than 46% of FP500 public companies have no women directors.
Despite the compelling business case for more women on corporate boards, Canada continues to lag other nations in initiatives to improve the gender balance.
Late last year, I told CanCon readers that I was challenging myself to move beyond my comfort level, to step out of my usual pattern, to make a real difference in the advancement of women in business.
So, when we reviewed the results of the Census, we knew that we had to do more than issue a news release pointing out the lack of progress. We had to make a concrete call to action that would get a response from corporate Canada.
With that in mind, the Catalyst Accord was created. We’ve invited FP500 Canadian companies, together and separately, to stand up and be counted by setting voluntary goals for increasing the representation of women over a five-year period. The goal is to see the FP500 average reach 25% by 2017.
And, we’re going to help them achieve that goal. When Canadian companies sign the Accord, Catalyst will provide a list of qualified, board-ready women who are recommended by members of the Catalyst Canada Advisory Board.
The Catalyst Accord is an opportunity to step up the pace of change in Canada, and shift us from laggard to leader in five years. Two companies, RBC and Linamar Corporation, have come forward to be the first to sign the Accord. They understand the benefits in financial performance that accrue to companies with more women board directors. And they know that the Canadian economy can’t excel without harnessing the power of our talented women.
Over the next months, watch our website for a list of Catalyst Accord participants. If your company is there, congratulations! If your company isn’t there, you might want to ask why.
Please join our Tweet Chat on Thursday, March 15 at 12pm EST to discuss the recently-released 2011 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Board Directors. Liz Mulligan-Ferry, Senior Associate, Research, will be on-hand to discuss the latest count of women on corporate boards at Canada’s largest companies. Follow along via Twitter.com or use Tweetchat.com for a more streamlined view of the discussion. Please use the hashtag #ChatCat for every tweet you send during this special event.