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Board diversity: the latest metrics and government measures

The diversity of boards has become a target of greater scrutiny. This scrutiny has come not only from activist investors seeking higher returns and better governance, but from governments and various interest groups outside the corporation. It has homed in on a variety of director characteristics, including length of tenure, age, gender, and visible minority status. This post begins by discussing some of the latest metrics on board diversity in Canada. It then looks at some of the recent measures governments and regulators have been taking to increase diversity in the boardroom.

Length of tenure

According to a Financial Times Continue Reading

Majority voting and board diversity trends

As recently highlighted in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, a report (the Report) by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) found that majority voting practices and annual board elections, along with increases in board diversity, are the new norm.

The Report examined the public filings of Standard & Poor’s U.S. “Super 1,500” companies (S&P 1500)  comprised of the S&P 500, MidCap 400 and SmallCap 600 indices from the period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.

Majority Voting and Annual Elections

Majority voting is now the clear market standard amongst … Continue Reading

Board diversity update: Is female board representation on the rise?

Nearly seven months have passed since the formal amendments to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices and Form 58-101F1- Corporate Governance Disclosure were announced by securities regulators, imposing enhanced disclosure requirements with respect to female representation on boards (the Gender Disclosure Requirements). Although the new requirements do not mandate quotas, they impose stringent disclosure obligations on TSX-listed issuers.

With International Women’s Day just behind us, just how well are Canadian companies doing with gender diversity?

The Canadian Board Diversity Council’s 2014 Annual Report Card (the Report Card) shows that there has been some progress: in … Continue Reading

The Gender Question: BC Securities Commission asks for comment on disclosure requirements with respect to board gender diversity

In late 2014, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published “comply or explain” rules regarding female representation in director and executive officer positions. The requirements were codified in National Instrument 58-101 (the Disclosure Requirements) and created a positive duty for issuers in participating jurisdictions to disclose the details of female representation, including issuers’ targets, policies, and mechanisms to address female representation in director and executive officer roles. Where issuers do not adopt such mechanisms or consider female representation, they are required to explain their reasons for not doing so. The Disclosure Requirements were adopted in all CSA jurisdictions … Continue Reading

Ignoring board gender diversity is no longer an option

Discussions around board gender diversity are picking up steam in the lead up to the 2018 proxy season. Some of the leading proxy advisory firms, namely the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co. LLC (Glass Lewis), appear to have caught wind of the discussions – both firms added a voting policy in respect of board gender diversity to their 2018 proxy voting guidelines for Canada.

The discussions around board gender diversity are not new. In late 2014 (and as reported on this blog), the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published ‘comply or Continue Reading

Overboard, under deliver?

We recently reported that Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) released its 2018 Americas Proxy Voting Guidelines Updates (the Policy Update), which, among other things, establishes modified guidelines for determining whether a director serving on the board of multiple public companies is “overboarded”.

Starting in 2019, ISS will recommend a withhold vote for (1) directors of TSX-listed companies who are CEOs and serve on two or more public boards and (2) any non-CEO director who serves on the board of five or more public companies.

Overboarding is a hot button topic in the realm of corporate governance. Questions arise … Continue Reading

Management diversity: will targets and quotas improve gender diversity?

On October 5, 2017, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) released Staff Notice 58-309 (Staff Notice) reporting findings of a review carried out by various Canadian securities regulators of disclosure regarding women on boards and in executive officer positions by TSX issuers, as prescribed in National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices. We previously reported on the introduction of disclosure requirements in 2014.

The findings are generally positive, and have shown that gender diversity of boards is improving. The review has found that the total board seats occupied by women has increased from 11% in … Continue Reading

Top board priorities for 2016

With 2016 upon us, boards are likely to reflect on the organizational challenges they expect to face in the coming year, and to develop effective strategies to tackle these challenges. A recent EY publication anticipates that in developing these strategies, boards will focus their energies on addressing the following five critical challenges:

1. Board effectiveness, composition and refreshment

Boards are always looking for ways to self-improve. It is expected that 2016 will be no different in this respect. Boards will seek ways to attain the right mix of skills and experience and to enhance transparency and accountability. Particular attention will … Continue Reading

Management diversity: Do women in management lower a firm’s risk profile?

In an earlier post, we commented on the formal amendments to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices and Form 58-101F1- Corporate Governance Disclosure imposing enhanced disclosure requirements with respect to female representation on the boards and in executive officer positions of TSX-listed issuers.  As we discussed earlier this year, the correlation between gender diversity on boards and company performance is compelling from an investment value perspective.

It is also beneficial for issuers to recruit women into upper management roles. In a recent academic study examining management diversity, “Do Women Stay Out of Trouble”, the … Continue Reading

Enhanced Disclosure Requirements on Women in the Boardroom

The securities regulators in 7 provinces and 2 territories announced on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, that the final version of the amendments to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices (NI 58-101) and Form 58-101F1 Corporate Governance Disclosure (Form 58-101F1) would include stringent requirements pertaining to female representation on boards and in executive officer positions. Securities regulators in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan have all signed on to the long-awaited amendments.

Disclosure Requirements

The enhanced disclosure requirements pertaining to females on boards, while significant, … Continue Reading

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