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It still surprises me that in the 21st century Canada’s boardrooms are not more diverse. In fact, I often get asked to consider a board opportunity because the company is looking to add diversity to their board. As of January 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) implemented disclosure rules for TSX-listed companies to “comply or explain” in regards to their board diversity. It is hopeful that this will lead to positive changes ahead in how corporate boards recruit new board members.
Be an Agent of Change
As a corporate director, I believe that the OSC “comply or explain” disclosure rules present an opportunity to build stronger boards through change. There is research to support that more women on boards brings better financial performance including higher return on sales and better stock growth. As well, non-financial performance, like bringing diverse viewpoints, skills and experience, can improve overall decision making, enhance a company’s capacity to build a pipeline of potential future women executives and encourage innovation.
So, how can you be an Agent of Change in making board diversity a strategic opportunity for board-building? The first step is to ask yourself these 10 questions to help advance your Board diversity mandate.
10 Board Diversity Mandate Questions
- Do you perform an annual board assessment of your current board composition, and do you have diversity of thought, skills, experience, gender, age, industry and geographic?
- Have you defined what board diversity means to your company in terms of the commitment and needs?
- Do you have set term limits and/or age limits for your current board?
- Do you have a board diversity policy that sets out targets for women representation on your board?
- Do you go outside your current network when looking for new board talent?
- Do you have an internal diversity champion?
- Do you perform an annual board performance evaluation for board renewal?
- Do you keep an evergreen list of diverse board candidates for board renewal?
- Do you have a board succession planning process?
- Do you ensure there are diverse board candidates in the board search process? (Do you know about Women Get On Board and our directory that we are building of qualified women corporate directors?)
Diverse boards enhance a company’s financial and non-financial performance. So, let’s all step up today and collectively be Agents of Change in advancing board diversity in Canada. Together, we can make a difference in advancing diversity as a strategic opportunity for board-building.