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B.C. near bottom for female directors

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A new report finds B.C. has the second-lowest representation of women on boards of directors next to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Among provinces with 10 or more of the top-earning 500 companies in Canada, the west coast becomes the worst nationwide.

According to Catalyst Canada — an international non-profit that works to expand opportunities for women — only 11.9% of British Columbia’s boards of directors of companies on the Financial Post 500 list are female.

At the high end, the data doesn’t get much better. In first-place Nova Scotia, the vast majority of directors are still men, with just 25.7% of directors as women.

Among industries, the utilities sector has the highest number of board seats held by women, with several categories of the resource sector ranking the lowest.

Alex Johnson, executive director for Catalyst, said B.C.’s heavy reliance on the resource sector is “100%” the reason provincial numbers are still so low.

“The conversation in B.C. is really about starting to increase visible role models, addressing the barriers into getting women into those sectors,” she said.

Johnson called upon the B.C. Securities Commission to follow their Ontario counterpart’s proposal to require all publicly listed companies on the Toronto exchange to provide term limits and goal disclosures. She said the idea was met favourably in conversations with B.C.’s top directors and executives.

However, the numbers, at least in public companies, are improving. The proliferation of women on public boards moved up “nearly two percentage points” in the previous two years — about four times faster than the average, Johnson added.

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