News and Announcements

At One Year Mark, Thirteen Leading FP500 Companies Pledge to Catalyst Accord

Goal is for women to hold 25% of FP500 boards seats by 2017

TORONTO (May 8, 2013)—In 2012, Catalyst launched the Catalyst Accord asking Financial Post 500 CEOs to make a voluntary commitment to raise the overall proportion of board seats held by women in Canada to 25% by 2017. For years, Catalyst’s biennial Census reports have demonstrated no significant improvement in women’s representation on FP500 corporate boards. However, 13 companies (see list below) are now Accord signatories, showcasing the importance of this voluntary initiative to Canada as a country.

According to Catalyst research, there is a strong business case for increasing women’s representation in business leadership—specifically, better financial outcomes, on average, and innovation that is, in part, driven by gender-diverse leadership. Concisely speaking: what is good for women is good for men, business, communities, and the Canadian economy.

“Canada needs to stay competitive in a global economy,” said Alex Johnston, Executive Director of Catalyst Canada. “Currently, we are falling behind as other countries are moving ahead in leveraging their talent and increasing the number of women on boards.”

The good news is that Catalyst research shows that Canada has no shortage of board-ready women. In fact, through one of its corporate board initiatives, Catalyst Corporate Board Resource (CCBR), a list of CEO-sponsored women is available to Catalyst member companies. Accord signatories can also receive a list of experienced, CEO-endorsed women ready to assume leadership who are recommended by the Catalyst Canada Advisory Board.

The goals that signatory companies set together with Catalyst are ambitious, attainable and tailored to the individual companies. The goal for Canada is 25% of FP500 board seats held by women; all companies can help achieve this goal by adding one or more women to their boards. The keys to leveraging the talent of Canada’s board-ready women are making the public commitment, setting the goal and providing the leadership to get there.

While Catalyst believes 13 companies is a good start, moving the numbers on Canadian boards requires a broader commitment from FP500 companies. To learn more about becoming a signatory, please contact [email protected].

On May 15, 2013, at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Catalyst COO Deborah Gillis, BMO President and CEO Bill Downe, and Gail Cook-Bennett, former Chair of the Board of Manulife Financial, will share their perspectives on this topic.

Current Accord Signatories:
BMO Financial Group
Ernst & Young LLP Canada
HSBC Bank of Canada
Intact Financial Corporation
Linamar Corporation
Manulife Financial Corporation
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
MTS Allstream
Talisman Energy Inc.
WestJet Airlines, Inc.

Additional Resources:

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, and India, and more than 600 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.