Canadian Head of Global Accounting Body calls on Canada's public companies to adopt the 30 per cent rule
TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2013 /CNW/ - The Head of ACCA Canada (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) today called on Canadian public companies to provide more young women with a path to leadership and adopt the 30 per cent rule - ensuring that at least 30 per cent of their board members are women.
"We know that a finance background helps women get corporate board positions," said Suzanne K. Godbehere. "But we also know that too few women have corporate board positions."
Women are poorly represented on Canadian boards, comprising only 14.5 per cent of the nation's 500 largest company boards. Many countries report an even lower percentage.
"As the global body for professional accountants, we have 428,000 students in 173 countries," said Godbehere. "Half are women. Many of these young women will aspire to positions of senior leadership, including board positions. It will simply be smart business for public companies to promote the most qualified to their boards."
A recent report by ACCA, 'Paving the way to opportunities: women in leadership across the Commonwealth ', stated that the 30 per cent rule has been widely accepted as the baseline level for the proportion of women on boards to be sufficient to have an impact.
A "30 % Club" was launched in the United Kingdom in 2010. Its members are Chairmen of UK companies who have voluntarily committed to bring more women onto the nation's corporate boards.
"Gender diversity creates more effective boards, reflecting a broader range of skills, experiences and perspectives," said Godbehere. "This is especially important as women gain financial power throughout the world. However, too many companies still aren't getting it."
Globally, according to the World Bank in 2013, 39.8 per cent of companies still have no female directors, and less than one-tenth of organizations have reached the 30 per cent female representation that constitutes an effectively diverse board.
"Organizations that don't actively identify and recruit highly-skilled women to their boards are missing tremendous opportunities," said Godbehere. "The global consumer spend by women is projected to be reach $28-trillion by 2014 - that's a consumer market senior leadership needs to fully understand."
Godbehere lauded the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan for its recent recommendation to the Ontario Securities Commission that all public company boards be required to have at least three women directors.
"ACCA Canada prefers the 30 per cent target, because it can be easily applied across all company boards, regardless of their size," said Godbehere. "But the specific number isn't as important as the fact that women need to be fairly represented on the boards of Canadian public companies. Today, they're not. And that's not acceptable by any measure."