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Catalyst Census 2013: Meaningful Growth for Women on Boards at Public Companies in Canada

Change afoot despite less rosy report for private companies, Crown corporations and cooperatives.

TORONTO (March 3, 2014)—Women’s representation on boards at public companies has increased nearly two percentage points in the past two years, signaling new momentum for corporate Canada. According to the 2013 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Board Directors, released today, women’s representation on boards of public companies increased from 10.3% in 2011 to 12.1% in 2013.

But the data presents a less encouraging picture for private companies, Crown corporations, and cooperatives on the FP500 list—they have seen no meaningful increase in their numbers of women board directors compared to 2011. Furthermore, more than one-third of companies (36.0%) continue to have no women on their boards, including four out of 10 (41.7%) public companies.

“Despite the overall numbers, we are excited to see growth for women on boards at public companies in Canada,” said Alex Johnston, Executive Director, Catalyst Canada. “We believe this movement, along with other positive actions such as the Ontario Securities Commission’s recent ‘comply or explain’ recommendations for all TSX-listed companies, signals an important shift. Corporate Canada is beginning to embrace what Catalyst has always known: that gender diversity on boards benefits corporate decision-making, helps drive better business results, and strengthens Canada’s economic competitiveness.”

Regional Findings: Quebec Leads the Way; B.C. Furthest Behind

The 2013 Catalyst Census data reveal that, for provinces with more than 10 FP500 companies, Quebec has the highest percentage of board seats held by women (19.8%) while British Columbia has the lowest (11.9%).

By Industry: Mining, Oil and Gas Have Lowest Women’s Representation

Among industries with more than 10 FP500 companies, the Utilities industry has the highest percentage of board seats held by women (23.2%), while companies in Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction have the lowest (7.0%).

“Regardless of industry, corporations should tap into the full talent pool when naming board members, as a strategy essential to business success,” said Ms. Johnston. Indeed, Catalyst is tracking additional momentum for women on boards via its Catalyst Accord initiative, a call to action for corporations to increase the overall proportion of FP500 board seats held by women to 25% by 2017, which 22 companies have already signed. “We’re excited to be partnering with leading-edge organizations on this important issue,” she said.

Additionally, Catalyst’s Women on Board® program, which promotes the appointment of women to corporate boards by matching candidates with mentors and champions, has also seen growth, generating an increase in appointments of women to corporate boards in the past two years (19 in 2013 vs. 11 in 2012).


The 2013 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Board Directors details women’s representation on corporate boards at the largest companies in Canada. This biennial report provides critical statistics to gauge women’s advancement into leadership and highlights the gender diversity gap. Each year Catalyst tracks:

  • Women’s share of all board seats.

  • Women’s share of board leadership positions at public companies.

  • Women’s share of board seats at public companies, private companies, Crown corporations, and cooperatives.

  • All companies with 0%, 25% or more, and 40% or more women directors.

AT&T, Bloomberg, BMO Financial Group, Cardinal Health, Inc., Chevron Corporation, Credit Suisse, Dell Inc., Deloitte LLP, Desjardins Group, Deutsche Bank AG, EY, General Motors Company, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, KeyBank, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, McDonald’s Corporation, PPL CorporationSodexo, State Street Corporation, UPS.

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, and Australia, and more than 700 members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award.