ITAC Supports Efforts to Improve Board Diversity

Women must be more prominently represented in all dimensions of the ITC industry, including on corporate boards of directors, says the co-chair of ITAC’s Diversity Initiative.

“We believe, without reservation, that diversity is directly linked to enterprise success,” said Lloyd Bryant, Managing Director, Hewlett-Packard Canada .“Research has shown that groups with greater diversity outperform heterogeneous ones. Catalyst studies have repeatedly shown that companies with the highest representation of women on boards financially outperform those with the lowest.”

As a champion of this idea, Bryant says ITAC applauds Ontario Security Commission rules that came into effect this week that require listed companies to ‘comply or explain’ with respect to new gender balance targets in their management ranks and on their boards of directors.

ITAC also supports Catalyst and the TSX for their joint initiatives toward greater gender diversity on Canadian boards of directors.

“As we support these initiatives, we’re fulfilling ITAC’s mandate to strengthen our industry by strengthening the companies within it,” says Bryant.

The issue of women on boards has been a major focus of ITAC’s Gender Diversity Advisory Group. A 2013 white paper, ‘Gender Diversity of Boards of Directors of Canadian ICT Companies’ authored by Karen Wensley, indicated that women hold about 16.5% of board positions in the largest publicly traded ICT companies. This is close to the Canadian average but less than the Canadian financial sector. The paper sets out a number of recommendations to improve this performance.

ITAC’s Diversity Initiative has created a Gender Equity Subcommittee on Women on Boards to address this. The subcommittee is chaired by Mary Whittle, Global Channel Director, Avaya Inc. The group is planning a February workshop for senior women in ICT

“The program will bring thought leaders and accreditation specialists to guide women on the skills they need to be ‘board ready’,” Ms. Whittle said. “We will also cover the process boards use to identify potential candidates and explore what women can do to increase their access to board opportunities. Ultimately we want to produce a vetted list of capable women for Canadian ICT firms to appoint to their boards.”