The University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business and the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) released the results of the first-ever Alberta Women on Boards Index on September 22, 2015 (the Index). The Index is intended to be an annual study led by an advisory committee generally comprised of senior business leaders in the region.

The study, based on a survey of 453 companies from 2015 and 474 companies in 2014 for which the ASC is the principal regulator, found that in general, female corporate board members have been on the rise, with roughly 22% of all new board directors of TSX-listed Alberta issuers appointed in 2015 being women. Overall, women hold 9% of TSX-listed board positions of Alberta issuers, which is an increase from 8% in 2014. Additionally, women hold 20.3% of all board positions of Alberta issuers in the TSX/S&P 60 Index, which is on point with the entire TSX/S&P 60 Index. In terms of number of females on each board, the report found that 29% of the boards surveyed had one woman or more, while just 3% have three women or more, which again, is an increase from 25% and 2%, respectively, in 2014.

While these results indicate an increase in female board members, an article in the Calgary Herald, highlights the fact that these numbers are still less than half of the national average. Historically, Alberta’s female board representation has been low, exemplified by a survey detailed in the article, completed by Global Governance Advisors, finding that in 2013, just 9% of board members of Calgary’s Top 100 publicly traded companies were women. This percentage dropped to 6% when referring specifically to the energy sector, Alberta’s dominant industry.

One of the co-chairs of the study, Loren Falkenberg, Haskayne’s associate dean of research, indicated that this trend should continue given that females account for up to 60% of university graduates today. With more stringent disclosure requirements now in place in respect of female representation on boards and in executive officer positions, aimed at increasing transparency, boards in Alberta and across the country may also feel additional pressure from the investment community to continue this trend.

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