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by Jennifer Koury, Director, Board Ready Women

Creating Opportunities for Women on Boards

Despite notable improvement in gender representation on boards in developed nations, Canada has yet to achieve comparable progress, with Alberta trailing even further behind. Women currently occupy only 23% of board seats for companies based in Alberta listed on the TSX Composite Index, in contrast to the national average of 24%.

The case for diversity in corporate leadership and on boards is indisputable, yet the number of women in these roles remains disproportionately low. A consolidated strategy is needed to create opportunities for women in board positions. Alberta boasts a pool of highly skilled and capable women who possess the potential to make significant contributions to the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors across Canada. Women’s participation at the executive level can positively impact a company’s financial performance. As such, it is imperative to leverage this talent. 

Board Ready Women (BRW) was established in 2018 with the mission of increasing female representation on Canadian boards across all industries. We recognize the challenges that board-aspiring women face and seek to support them in securing positions where they can leverage their skills, experience, and character to make a significant contribution. We are achieving this goal by building a robust network through quarterly skill-building and knowledge-sharing seminars featuring influential and high-profile speakers from diverse backgrounds, including CEOs, executives, recruiters, board consultants, journalists, board members, and politicians. BRW also facilitates networking opportunities with “Board Ready” and “Board Experienced” female and male counterparts to heighten gender diversity awareness in boardrooms.

BRW connects board-aspiring women with “Board Experienced” mentors who provide valuable insights and help them advance their careers.

We connect accomplished members with extensive professional backgrounds and diverse experience with top recruiters and provide access to valuable resources, such as board opportunities, communication tools, and other relevant information to further assist them in their pursuits.

By providing these resources, we aim to increase the number of Canadian women in board positions. Since our inception in July 2018, more than 300 women have become part of the BRW network, and we are seeing discernible and substantial improvements. Our members’ feedback is encouraging, with 26% of our network joining boards, 62% making valuable connections, and 73% achieving greater preparedness to serve on boards, as reported by our members.

BRW is thrilled with the success it’s achieved in such a short period, but recognizes that there is much more work to be done. To expand our reach and impact, we have joined forces with the federal government to support the 50-30 Challenge initiative, which seeks to promote gender diversity on boards and senior management teams and create more opportunities for women. Additionally, we have established partnerships with several organizations, including Axis Connects, Alberta Women’s Science Network (AWSN), GeoWomen Calgary, The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), Calgary Women in Energy, Women in Energy Council (WEC), Equal Futures Network, and Women in Mining Canada (WIMC), with whom we announced a collaboration with last year. 

We hope you will join us on our continued journey to raise awareness among men and women about the importance of diversity and inclusion in corporate communities. Together, we can improve female representation on boards and forge the connections necessary to position women in roles where they can make a meaningful impact. 

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Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 6