A proposal that women achieve parity with men over the next 10 years on Canada’s major bank boards, is resoundingly being voted down by management and shareholders.  As of now there are three or four women on the 15-member boards.  Also as of now, if the rate of change for women on  the boards continues at the same pace as it has over  the past 20 years it will take 120 years to reach parity between men and  women board members.

And the problem gets worse.  Only 21 per cent of Canadian MPs are women.  Women hold a mere 14 per cent of board seats and 17 percent of senior officers on FP500 corporations.  Close to  half of those companies have no female directors at all. Some governments like India and Argentina have passed laws stipulating that corporate boards must be 30 per cent female.  France has such a law (40 percent women) and Germany is planning one. Should governments (including Canada and the United States) stipulate that a certain proportion of women (say 30-40 percent) should sit on corporate boards?

If women are half the population (and more than half the MBAs)  should not women have at least 40 per cent of board seats?

Should the government pass legislation stipulating that Canadian  and American women should occupy 40 per cent of board seats?

What do you think?


  1. 1
    Vin Smith Says:

    …I am happy that my state–California–has two female senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. I have long advocated that the scarcity of women in positions of power be addressed. The question would be, however, is affirmative action the way to do it? That is what a quota system would be–affirmative action, and certainly not anything like a meritocracy. Neither Boxer nor Feinstein could be remotely thought of as occupying their positions because of some sort of quota systems They are both astute politicians.

    Yet, until the English-speaking countries mature to the point of truly being post-sexist, and post-racist for that matter, affirmative action of some sort will undoubtedly be necessary.

  2. 2

    What has competence to do with gender? If more women wanted to be involved, they’d be involved! I’d rather have more competent and honest folk fill those positions than whine about not having “enough” women. How many is “enough,” anyway?

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    More women want to be involved in politics. So what happens. Generally women are given un winnable ridings that the men don’t want. Fair? I don’t thin k so.

  4. 4

    That doesn’t mean we need more women, Neil, it means we need a better electoral process. We need to get the control of who is allowed to run as candidates away from the party leaders and back into the hands of the voters.

  5. 5
    jim Says:

    Forbes Magazine wrote about this subject last year. The survey concluded that women, if they had their druthers, would rather have men as bosses. Letters to the editor confirmed that survey. Trying to tackle this problem is a major undertaking. I prefer to to look at the problem from the bottom up. Why are women allowing men to do female jobs. They should open up their own businesses and become chefs, makeup artists, hairdressers, designers etc. Later on when they have a chain of four or five hundred outlets they can load their board with the pushy types who don’t know how to handle conflict and get them out of the way; in order to allow women who do not grind their teeth when addressing subordinates, with a smile yet; and allow them to change the corporate culture to the degree that their staff will never be heard bitching about the curse because these ladies are happy ladies, and they know that shit happens. And what’s this about the boardroom ladies going to the loo in pairs whilst at work. I have never been able to find out how they have learned to time it so that they both must go at the same time. Imagine my asking Neil if he would like to go to the john with me.

  6. 6
    chris goodwin Says:

    “Should” implies a desirable state of affairs: hence , one individual who desires: that is their business ( iff in a free society). “We” implies concerted (= political, imposed) action: MINIMISE. (“I” is more honest, but more clearly a selfish viewpoint). If politicians think a LAW is the way forward, let them apply it to their own bailliwick – and show that it works better – with an objective, independent review of just how effective (a) the existing “sexist” form of government, contra (b) the new, improved “non sexist” form of government might work out. If it is all so much more wunnerful, then other self governing bodies will fall over themselves to emulate the clever politicians. Until then, shut up.

    If you want a more democratic, and hence non sexist, non racist, non religionist, non ageist, (etc.) form of government, it’s easy. Take the list of voters, possibly delete those currently locked up in jail or an insane asylum (if you don’t want too many crooks or nuts in your legislature, though they seem to get in anyway under the existing systems) and then pluck out names at random, until your house is full. Attendance a civic duty, like jury service, but better paid.

    Result. ½ men, ½ women (plus/minus by a small random deviation). A full spread of age, from callow youth to the geriatrics. A fair representation of each ethnic, religious, political (etc.) grouping, but NB not the LEADERS (except by the veriest fluke) Not the party bosses, but the stamp licking, coffee brewing party workers who have slogged away for “the cause” for years, in the naive belief that the “leaders” would actually “do something” and “improve the world”. Not the Deans, Bishops, Cardinals, Chief Rabbis, etc. who are all highly skilled politico-
    theologians, but their (more or less) devout, and (more or less!) heretical followers – “gut” religionists, not sober “head” churchmen (Yes,
    churchwomen as well as churchMEN). This might not make politics more effective, but at least it might be more entertaining. And all the different national origins would throw up their members, each to be as honourable as they can. And make government more “fair?”

    Losses: all the professional politicians, who each have such a high opinion of what they can contribute to the common weal: yet give us war, economic disaster, and ever increasing reams of legislation. (And they were promising us a “paper free” world …!)

    Gains: everyone would have to take an interest in politics, because Your Country might just Need You, and everyone could take an interest in politics, because the party (and other ethnic/religious) bosses would have to stop doing deals in small back rooms, and come out with clear, unambiguous guidance to their more or less willing and more or less capable supporters in the chamber, who would barely know what to do unless someone told them. Such guidances would probably take the form of pamphlets or e-mails, and the journalists of this world could fill their papers with ’em. They would be worth a read; because the bulk of the computer drawn legislature would not be committed party members, zealous Koran burning, Jew baiting Christian bigots, or maladjusted immigrants with a mission to save “our people” from dimly perceived integration issues, but the normal unremarked people who get on with their lives, have families, friends and goals of their own, to which they will return after a term of governing service. Foot soldiers, the poor bloody infantry of society, who know where the boot does not fit. They must be addressed in plain language. They will want to know how, e.g. “quantitative easing” – which is so good – differs from what evil Kings used once to resort to, called “clipping the coinage”. They might even demand to know why, if artificially depressing the interest rate has led to the current sub prime/MBS/bank credit meltdown, the best policy to get us out of this mess should be keeping the interest rate down even longer, and rpinting yet more money.

    Of course, I may be wrong. Maybe people in general are just as stupid, ignorant and short sighted as the current cliques of politicos, but if that is true, then why bother exerting ourselves to improve/extend/enhance democracy ?

  7. 7

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight.

    Fact: Women comprise 52% of the population (my high school math tells me this comprises a “majority”).

    Fact: Women have the vote.

    …seems to me if women wanted to have women as their democratic representatives that that is precisely what they’d have.

    As for the private sector, women comprise about 99% of all stay-at-home-moms and, last time I looked, 100% of those giving birth.

    That’s unfair!

    When the day comes that we oppressed men gain parity with women in those areas, that’s the day when we should discuss the percentage of women as CEO’s.

  8. 8


  9. 9
    littlepatti Says:

    Yes. Women should be elevated to run for government office and sit on boards.
    If 40-50% were women, our country and government would look different:
    Much BETTER!
    and PS, men have had their “kick at the can” and I can’t see any advancement or improvement. We are bogged down by the good old boys.

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