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• Set targets. Osler’s 2020 Diversity Disclosure Practices highlights that just under 29 per cent of TSX-listed companies have adopted targets for women directors. This has to change, and not because it’s the right thing to do, but because research conducted by various global organizations such as McKinsey and Catalyst note a correlation between having women on boards and an increase in corporate profitability. The bottom line is that having women on boards makes financial sense.
• Develop a skills matrix. It’s easy to avoid the truth if you’re wearing blinkers. A board skills matrix lists the various professional qualities that each member brings to the board, along with a breakdown of age, gender identification and whether they are Black, Indigenous or a person of colour. This visual summary provides a clear snapshot of strengths and areas for improvement, helping boards cast a wider net which will ensure they are fully reflective of modern society.
• Get Help. Over the last few years, numerous organizations have been formed with one simple goal: to get more women on boards. The 30% Club and Women Get On Board are just two groups that specialize in promoting, recruiting and training women for board opportunities, and Girls On Boards – a G(irls)20 initiative – places young female and non-binary leaders at the heart of governance structures. These organizations stand ready and able to support companies as they transition to 21st-century governance structures.
• Move the Needle. The old boys’ club is alive and well and it isn’t good for anyone – not even the old boys. If corporate Canada wants a full economic recovery coming out of COVID-19, then it has to pull up its socks and stop being so white, male and privileged. It’s 2021 and the world has changed. Either corporate Canada makes room for women in boardrooms and C-Suites or it can justify to shareholders why it’s deliberately weakening its own bottom line.
Jennifer Stewart and Catherine Clark are the Co-Founders of The Honest Talk.
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