The Big Read

The Canadian IPO’s woman problem: Men named David have better odds than women at taking companies public on the TSX

VANCOUVER — Late last October, Shahrzad Rafati’s company, Vancouver-based BBTV Holdings, completed a $172.4-million initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. With many companies going public each year, Rafati’s move shouldn’t have made history. And yet, Rafati was the sole female founder over five years to still helm her company when it started trading on the TSX via an initial public offering, according to an analysis by The Logic

Between 2016 and 2020, 43 companies completed IPOs on the TSX. Only two were started or co-founded by women. Only one—Rafati—was still serving as CEO when the company went public. Three times more men named David achieved the same milestone in those five years.

The Logic compiled this analysis by scouring publicly available documents, such as corporate financial filings, press releases and other sources, to determine each company’s founder and CEO at the time of listing. That’s because it appears no organization tracks the names—let alone gender—of founders of publicly listed companies. A Statistics Canada spokesperson confirmed the agency doesn’t record this information. Neither does the Ontario Securities Commission or TMX Group, which owns and operates the TSX and TSX Venture Exchange.  

BBTV’s research shows it ranked among the top 10 TSX tech listings ever. “We really broke important new ground,” said Rafati. “I want young women to think that, ‘If she’s done it, I can do it, too.’”

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