Briefing

Ottawa planning new program to boost private-sector board, executive diversity

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The 50/30 challenge will reportedly encourage companies to appoint women and members of visible-minority groups to a respective 50 per cent and 30 per cent of director and senior-management positions. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains will consult organizations and firms to develop the program, which will include incentives. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: As of January, publicly traded, federally regulated corporations are required to disclose annually how many members of their board and senior management are women, Indigenous, persons with disabilities and/or members of visible minorities. Nine provincial and territorial securities regulators enacted similar “comply and explain” rules focused on gender representation in December 2014. But tangible targets and rules with teeth remain elusive. For example, the Ontario Securities Commission didn’t follow through on a threat to tighten requirements if firms didn’t improve their numbers by the end of 2017, reportedly amid disagreements with the provincial Progressive Conservative government. Ottawa’s incentive-based approach stands in contrast to jurisdictions like California that are passing mandates into law in an effort to make real progress.