The keynote address was given by Katie Telford, Canadian Political Strategist and Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Trudeau, who delivered remarks about the viewpoints and priorities of the Canadian Government regarding women in the workplace and in leadership roles. Thereafter, the Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance unveiled the Board Playbook, a how-to guide to foster board diversity. This was followed by a toast to the 10th anniversary of the Catalyst Women On Board™ program in Canada.
Catalyst Women On Board™: Sponsorship Sparks Change
Catalyst Women On Board™ is spotlighted within the recently launched Catalyst CEO Champions For Change website, addressing a simple and powerful way to accelerate change in corporate boards: sponsorship. Catalyst Women On Board™ works to advance diversity on boards through sponsorship and has done so since its inception in 2007. To date, the program has led to more than 150 board appointments of its participants, with approximately 62% of alumnae having earned seats on corporate boards.
Deborah Gillis, Catalyst President & CEO, states: “It’s long past time to bust the myth we hear again and again that companies can’t find women to serve on their boards. We disprove that myth one introduction at a time by making powerful connections—bringing together women, sponsors, and companies to create opportunities. And this is something every leader can do.”
The CEO’s Influence on Board Diversity
CEOs can be intentional about influencing gender parity on boards and advocating for more women on their company’s board. The Harvard Business Reviewhighlights how some CEOs gender-balanced their boards by employing the following strategies: taking a promotion focus and considering benefits of diverse perspectives and experience, using major disruptions as an opportunity to appoint women or instate annual reviews of board members, and ensuring at least two women are finalists in board searches.
15% Decrease in Russell 3000 Boards with Zero Women
According to the Equilar Gender Diversity Index (GDI) third quarter report, the number of Russell 3000 boards with no women continues to decrease. Nearly one quarter of companies were found to have no women on their boards in 2016. To date, 114 of these companies have added a woman to their boards, amounting to a 15% decrease in the total number of Russell 3000 boards with zero women.
Catalyst Corporate Board Services “On the Move”
Brande Stellings, Senior Vice President of Catalyst Advisory Services, was quoted in a Washington Postarticle addressing sexual harassment and gender discrimination as issues for investors and boards: "We now see very squarely that issues of sexual harassment and gender discrimination are investor issues, and really are board issues. All of that is up for play in a way that feels quite different than it did just a few months ago. It feels like a watershed moment in terms of having conversations [on these issues] at the level of the board."