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Canadian Government Pushes to Increase Women on Boards

The Canadian government has created an advisory council to push for an increase in the number of women on corporate boards of directors.

“Businesses with more women on their boards are more profitable and routinely outperform those with fewer,” Rona Ambrose, federal minister of public works and for the status of women, said today in Toronto.

The 23-member council, which includes Linamar Corp Chief Executive Officer Linda Hasenfratz, TransAlta Corp. CEO Dawn Farrell and former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, will make recommendations in about six months on how best to influence governance committees and increase diversity.

Other members of the council include Janet Ecker, president of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, Charles Winograd, non-executive chairman of TMX Group Ltd. and former Canadian auditor-general Sheila Fraser.

While sectors such as finance and telecommunications have among the best representation of women on boards, Canada’s oil gas and mining industries still lag, Ambrose said. Only 7 percent of mining and oil and gas companies have women participating on boards, about half the national average, she said.

“There are areas that do need to increase their participation of women on corporate boards, but they also come with realistic challenges,” Ambrose said in a telephone interview.

Ambrose declined to name specific companies that are lagging in the oil and gas and mining sectors. She said there are about 800 women that are “board ready” to serve Canadian companies.

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