EY calls for bold action to move women into board and executive roles

New report says inaction would be costly for Canada overall

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(Toronto, February 24, 2014) Women are making little to no progress in breaking down the barriers to executive leadership or board membership – but that can change, EY says in a new report released today.

No more excuses: The case for bold action to move women onto boards and into senior executive roles outlines meaningful, measurable steps companies and boards can take to foster inclusiveness. Doing so empowers them to drive better decision-making, benefitting both investors and the capital markets.

“This isn’t just about doing the ‘right thing’ or ‘fairness’. It’s about unlocking the competitive advantage that our diverse workforce represents,” explains Fiona Macfarlane, EY’s Managing Partner, British Columbia, and Canadian Chief Inclusiveness Officer. “For too long, we’ve allowed commonly accepted myths and other surmountable factors to serve as excuses for why we can’t create real change for women.”

While the EY report recognizes the importance of regulatory oversight, it also advises companies and boards to proactively foster a higher-performing, more diverse corporate culture in Canada by zeroing in on five key areas:

1. Leaders act: Make an authentic and visible commitment through tone from the top; explicitly prioritizing female representation; take action when plans aren’t working
2. Leaders track progress: Set measurable goals to move the needle; customize and analyze them; identify gaps and opportunities
3. Leaders challenge assumptions (their own and others’): Understand barriers and biases; address them through a clear action plan that includes metrics
4. Leaders celebrate: Recognize and reward positive behaviours
5. Leaders ensure sustainability beyond themselves: Embed inclusive practices into critical business processes

“Studies shows that a high representation of women on a company’s board and in senior management is linked to strong financial performance,” says Macfarlane. “But despite that, there’s been no significant change to the number of women in those roles. It’s up to all of us – business leaders, board leaders, advocates and regulators, to take decisive action and make it happen. The potential cost of doing nothing is simply too high to wager.”

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About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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