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By Jeremy Hainsworth
Sept. 19—The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) said Sept. 14 that proposed “disclose-or-explain” rules could help increase the number of women in the province in positions of corporate leadership. The proposal would require Alberta-based, non-venture issuers, including companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, to disclose the number of women on their boards and in executive management and to describe any related policies or targets.
Women make up nearly half of the Canadian workforce, yet only one-quarter hold senior management positions and fewer than 16 percent serve as directors, provincial Minister of Status of Women Stephanie McLean said, citing research from the Conference Board of Canada. Close to half of publicly traded companies in Canada do not have any women on their boards.
ASC chair and CEO Stan Magidson told a Sept. 14 media conference call that the proposal is not intended to force equality but to ensure companies disclose representation of women in board or executive positions or explain why they are not there, so investors can use that knowledge in making decisions.
“It is about putting sunlight on your board so investors can make decisions,” Magidson said.
How boards and human resources departments would implement the changes if they are approved would be up to individual companies, Magidson said.
While Alberta currently has a female premier, chief justice and head of the public service, “women continue to be underrepresented at the corporate management level,” McLean said. “The top has been out of reach for too many women.”
If adopted, the proposed amendments to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices (NI 58-101) and Form 58-101F1 Corporate Governance Disclosure would require Alberta non-venture reporting issuers to provide annual disclosure of the following in proxy circulars or annual information forms:
The proposed amendments would align Alberta disclosure requirements with most other Canadian jurisdictions regarding the representation of women on boards of directors and in executive officer positions, the ASC said in a Sept. 14 news release.
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For more information on Alberta HR law and regulation, see the Alberta primer.
The proposed amendments to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance practices are availablehere.
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