Business People Meeting Discussion in a boardroom concept

The share of corporate board seats occupied by women continues to creep higher but gender equality remains a long way off in corporate Canada, according to report published Thursday by securities regulators in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

The report, the fourth review since 2015, finds that 66% of companies has at least one woman on their board in 2018, up from 61% last year, and 49% in 2015.

Similarly, the overall share of board seats occupied by women edged up to 15% this year from 14% in 2017, and 11% in 2015.

Although the trends are all tracking in the right direction, the prospect of gender parity still seems distant at this point. The report finds that 218 of the 648 issuers reviewed still don’t have single woman on their board. Indeed, only 4% of issuers had female CEOs, and just 14% had  female chief financial officers. Only two-thirds of the companies reviewed had at least one female executive, which is in line with female board representation.

According to the report 29% of vacated board seats were filled by women in 2018, up from 26% in last year. Although 16% of issuers have adopted targets for the representation of women on their board, only 4% have targets for executive positions.

Now, the question is whether regulators are prepared to take more decisive action to encourage companies to accelerate the push toward gender equality.

In its notice, the regulator say they are considering whether changes to the disclosure requirements are warranted; and, whether corporate governance guidance needs to be beefed up.

Regulators are planning to undertake further research on the subject. “Based on this work, the CSA will determine whether changes to our regulatory regime are warranted. No decisions have been made yet,” the notice states.

In the meantime, the disclosure review supports investor decision making and shareholder voting, the regulators say.

“Completing and publishing this review supports our ongoing focus on ensuring that information that investors use to make investment and voting decisions is readily available,” says Louis Morisset, CSA chairman and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), in a statement.