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Last Thursday the Institute of Corporate Directors held a session in Calgary on Board Diversity. It was followed by a roundtable hosted by Ernst & Young. Both sessions explored some of the challenges, fallacies and ideas for improving board diversity, especially gender diversity.


Yesterday the OSC released its proposed comply or explain rules. You can check them out here. They are open for comment until April 16, 2014.


There are lots of great reasons to develop a diverse board, not the least of which was a hint from regulators last week that if the situation doesn't change there will be pressure on the government to "do something" - and we all know that means they will impose quotas.


So it becomes a simple question of impact. Do we want to start addressing the problem when we get this little tap from a velvet hammer or do we wait for the sledgehammer to come out? We get to decide now.


To help you along, check out the great quotes and ideas from the sessions below.




It's All About Impact

Four Great Quotes 


"Boards need to step out of their comfort zone and start looking at candidates they don't know."

 - Male board member of a diverse board


"My Chair told me he couldn't believe how many qualified female candidates were out there once the board was forced to look for them."

- First female director on a board with a new quota requirement


"Sometimes I get a list of all males and I have to send it back and tell them to do better."

 - Government representative searching for Crown board members


"Operating experience isn't required for every board member - it is just another way women are kept from getting seats on oil and gas boards.

                   - Female member of management of a listed                                                                                 company



Five Great Ideas


  1. Have the Corporate Secretary help to bring forward the business case on how women add value in the board room.
  2. Think about "tone from the top" - it is the job of the Board Chair and/or the Nominating Chair to help move this forward.
  3. Reviewing and revising the skills matrix is a key step. For example, "CEO experience" should probably be expanded to either management experience or, better yet, leadership experience.
  4. Make diversity a part of your board succession planning - there a lot of skill areas where qualified women abound.
  5. Lastly, your board can take one big positive step by adopting Diversity One. They simply resolve to interview (at least) one diverse candidate for every open board seat. Take a sneak peek at the new Diversity One website before our official launch at


Send me an email at if you have a question about a governance practice or a corporate secretarial procedure.

I will reply to you privately. With your permission, I will share the question and answer (but not your name or organization) in an upcoming newsletter.



Coming Events

February 4, 2014

Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries

Orientation and Onboarding Workshop - Toronto


February 5, 2014

IR Magazine Investor Perception Seminar- Canada 2014 - Panelist


March 13, 2014

Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries

Orientation and Onboarding Workshop - Calgary

Shout 0uts

Thanks so much to Olga Kasjanova - the super organizer at CSCS for getting me sorted out and keeping me that way. 


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