The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is proposing to require public companies to provide disclosure about their approach to gender diversity on their boards, and within senior management.

The OSC Tuesday released OSC Staff Consultation Paper 58-401 Disclosure Requirements Regarding Women on Boards and in Senior Management.

The commission is seeking feedback on a proposal to require TSX-listed firms to set out various aspects of their gender diversity efforts in annual governance disclosures, including: their policies regarding female representation on their boards and in senior management; their consideration of the representation of women in the director selection process; and, certain quantitative information regarding the representation of women in the organization, on the board and in senior management.

The proposal would not apply to venture issuers.

“These types of disclosures are intended to provide investors and other stakeholders with information on the issuer’s approach to advancing the representation of women on boards and in senior management, which in turn may impact investment and voting decisions,” it says.

The paper comes in response to a pledge put forth by the provincial government in its latest budget to enhance this sort of disclosure, as a way of encouraging greater female representation in executive suites and boardrooms (and a request from Finance Minister Charles Sousa, and the then-Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Laurel Broten, that the OSC consult on the issue over the summer). It notes that women continue to be underrepresented in these positions.

“In my view, diversity of opinion is invaluable to corporate decision making, and it is therefore necessary to encourage greater representation of women at senior levels,” said Maureen Jensen, executive director and chief administrative officer of the OSC. “The model that we are putting forward for consultation will inform investors of the progress that Canadian companies are making in advancing the representation of women on their boards and in senior management.”

In addition to proposing a possible model for disclosure, the paper also seeks input on: the details of what those requirements should be; the best ways to improve gender diversity; whether the regulator should recommend that firms have a policy on the issue, and, if so, should it recommend the content of those policies; among other things.

Comments on the paper are due by September 27.