TORONTO — The chief economist of Toronto-Dominion Bank says the gender diversity of Canada's corporate boardrooms lags that of the U.S., with 24 per cent aggregate female diversity compared with 25 per cent south of the border.
Beata Caranci says in a new report that the country's resource sector companies and smaller firms need to make stronger headway, as both comprise a larger proportion of the S&P/TSX benchmark index relative to the S&P 500.
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She says there has been "noteworthy" progress since the Ontario Securities Commission in 2015 introduced a "comply or explain" rule to encourage gender diversity on boards and in senior management, including a rapid decline in the number of boards with zero women.
Caranci also notes that 2018 data shows S&P/TSX firms have a higher percentage of women-held board seats than U.S. issuers on the S&P 500 in seven out of 10 industry segments, including financials and telecoms.
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She says that's an improvement from 2011, when the U.S. outpaced Canada in eight out of 10 industries, but the latest data shows that Canadian board diversity continues to lag in the energy, materials and consumer-discretionary sectors.
Caranci says shareholder initiatives to put pressure on boards to increase the number of women show promise, but if there is little change within a few years, it may be time to consider policies targeting "trouble spots."