News and Announcements

1 in 9 Corporate Directors of FP500 are Women in Latest Count

More than one-half of FP500 have no women board members

Women hold 11.2 percent of corporate director positions in Canada (476 out of 4,247 corporate directors), a 1.4-percent increase since 2001, according to the 2003 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of Canada, released today. This third-of-its-kind census provides an accurate measure of women’s advancement to leadership in Canada’s 500 largest companies. 

In releasing the study, Dr. Susan Black, Vice President of Catalyst, said: “At 11.2 percent, women’s representation on FP500 boards clearly does not reflect their influence and impact on the Canadian economy as wage earners, managers, professionals, consumers, investors, and business owners.” 

The 2003 Catalyst census key findings include: 

Pyramid chart

  • Women hold 11.2 percent of board director positions in the FP500, up from 9.8 percent in 2001.
  • The proportion of companies with no women board directors has remained unchanged since 2001—at 51.4 percent (257 companies)
  • Since 2001, there has been no increase in the percentage of FP500 companies with at least one women board director—this number is 48.6 percent (243 companies)
  • Women chair three of the 243 publicly traded companies on the FP500
  • Crown corporations continue to have the highest women’s representation on boards, at 23.7 percent

"The Catalyst board census provides a marker for women’s representation in Canadian boardrooms. If we want more women on boards, we need to keep letting the corporate community know how it is doing. We shine a light on the success stories in the business community and we hold a mirror up to companies and industries that have an opportunity for improvement,” said Dr. Black. 

Certain industries continue to have the highest representation of women on their corporate boards. Financial services retailers, entertainment, and insurance companies lead the way with the highest proportion of women board members among industries. 

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 11.2 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 less than one-half (48.6 percent) of FP500 companies. 

Sponsored by Bell Canada, Scotiabank, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Janssen Ortho, McKinsey & Company, and Telus Communications Inc., the 2003 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of Canada is the third 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. 

“If we expect to build a strong, competitive economy for the 21st Century, we must find ways to be a more innovative society. And to do that, we must tap into the ideas, the skills, and the energy of all Canadians—men and women,” said Terry Mosey, Executive Vice President, Bell Canada, speaking on behalf of the study’s lead sponsor. 

About the Census
As in the 1998 and 2001 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of Canada, this year’s census reports findings based on companies ranked in the National Post’s Financial Post 500 list (the “FP500”). Catalyst uses this list because it is comprised of the largest Canadian companies and is widely recognized in Canada as the standard measure of corporate performance and market clout. 

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, not-for-profit 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.