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1 in 9 Corporate Directors Are Women in Latest Count

Status quo remains with some signs of progress

Women now hold 12 percent of corporate director positions in Canada (508/4225), a 0.8 percentage point increase since 2003 indicating little progress has been made in adding women to the boardroom, according to the 2005 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of the FP500, released today. This fourth-of-its-kind census provides an accurate measure of women’s advancement to leadership in Canada’s 500 largest companies. 

In releasing the study, Sonya Kunkel, Catalyst Canada Senior Director, said: “The sluggish rate of progress demonstrated by many of Canada’s leading businesses pales in comparison to the robust domestic corporate climate these companies have experienced. The number of women on FP500 boards clearly does not reflect their true impact on the Canadian economy as wage earners, managers, professionals, consumers, investors, and business owners.” 

The 2005 Catalyst census key findings include:

Pyramid chart

  • Publicly traded companies experienced virtually no change in the percentage of women directors (9.2 percent versus 9.0 percent in 2003).
  • Crown corporations had the highest percentage of women on their boards at 28.5 percent, up from 23.7 percent in 2003. Their superior performance masks the slow rate of growth in the number of women board directors in private companies, co-operatives, and public companies.
  • The percentage of companies with at least one woman board director increased from 48.6 percent in 2003 to 52.8 percent in 2005.
  • The percentage of companies with multiple women board directors increased almost 4.0 points since 2001 to 25.8 percent.
  • Certain industries continue to have the highest representation of women on their corporate boards including insurance, real estate, financial services, retailers and entertainment. Gold, mining, construction, engineering and information technology are among the industries with the lowest percentages of women directors.
  • Women chaired five of the 244 publicly traded companies on the FP500, up from three companies in 2003.

"The pool of talented women, qualified and available for board responsibilities, has grown significantly in recent years. Catalyst’s study shows that the larger Canadian companies are not yet taking advantage of this opportunity, “ said Claude Dussault, CEO of ING Canada. 

“Canada needs, and will benefit greatly from, much stronger representation from qualified women in the ranks of our corporate directors,” said Bill MacKinnon, CEO of KPMG LLP in Canada and a member of the Catalyst Advisory Board. “As Canadian business leaders, one of our most important jobs is to reduce the roadblocks that still impede women’s progress to senior ranks.”  

Canadian comparisons to the U.S.
A higher percentage of board directors in the United States are women—13.6 percent as compared to their Canadian counterpoints at 12 percent. In the United States, the number of companies with at least one board seat held by a woman is nearly double that of Canadian companies. According to Catalyst, 89.2 percent of Fortune 500 companies have at least one board seat held by a woman, versus just over one-half (52.8 percent) of FP500 companies according to the 2003 U.S. Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors. 

About the Census
Sponsored by KPMG LLP, Chubb Insurance Company of Canada, Hudson’s Bay Co., Inco Ltd., ING Canada Inc., Linamar Corporation, and Scotiabank, the 2005 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of the FP500 is the fourth census of women board directors in Canada. Catalyst has been tracking the progress of women in corporate governance in Canada since 1998. Through the census, Catalyst counts the number of women board directors in order to establish accurate statistics on women’s advancement in the corporate community. Each census serves as a measurement of accomplishment for corporations and of work yet to be done. 

About Catalyst
Catalyst is the leading research and advisory organization working to advance women in business, with offices in New York, San Jose, and Toronto. As an independent, nonprofit membership organization, Catalyst uses a solutions-oriented approach that has earned the confidence of business leaders around the world. Catalyst conducts research on all aspects of women's career advancement and provides strategic and web-based consulting services on a global basis to help companies and firms advance women and build inclusive work environments. In addition, we honor exemplary business initiatives that promote women's leadership with our annual Catalyst Award.