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March 2020

Update: Diversity Reporting For Publicly Listed Companies In Canada – How To Do It

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Diversity has been building momentum in business for nearly 20 years. We have had significant changes in law that identify the importance of diversity and inclusion, for instance, the express inclusion of ‘gender identity and gender expression’ and Community Benefits Agreements in BC. Helping to fuel the enactment and compliance of that legislation has been 15 years’ worth of powerful business cases articulating the financial and cultural value of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Publicly listed companies in Canada are facing an increase in the legal requirements regarding reporting on diversity on boards and senior management. 

In late 2014, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published “comply or explain” rules regarding women in director and executive officer positions in publicly listed companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). These requirements were codified in the National Instrument 58-101 (the Disclosure Requirements), thereby creating an annual positive duty for issuers in participating jurisdictions (all but BC and PEI) to disclose female representation. The requirements go a step further, requiring issuers to disclose if they have issued policies relating to female representation, term limits, and targets and mechanisms to address female representation in director and executive officer roles. If issuers do not adopt any such mechanisms or consider female representation more broadly, they must explain their reasons for doing so, thus creating a “comply or explain” rule. 

More recently, the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) published a notice and request for comments asking for comment on the gender diversity Disclosure Requirement in NI 58-101. Notably, BC based TSX-listed and other non-venture issuers must comply with the Disclosure Requirements as they do report in at least one of the Participating Jurisdictions (i.e. all but PEI).

The BCSC’s request for comment on gender diversity tells us one thing – the Commission is focusing on how the disclosure process can be improved and what mechanisms and governance policies are satisfactory to demonstrate gender diversity on publicly listed companies on the TSX.

New Reporting Changes as of January 2020

As of 1 January 2020, Canada became the first jurisdiction in the world to require the disclosure of diversity beyond gender. Currently, all federally incorporated public companies in Canada must report on their policies and practices relating to board of directors and senior management, and, going a step further, they must include the percentage of people in those roles who are women, Aboriginal persons, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities. 

How to Measure and Report on Diversity

This is where we can help. Our products help you to measure diversity and improve inclusion.  We safely and securely measure data using evidence-based research to get a real picture of diversity and employee engagement. Essentially, act as the ‘go between’ – a trusted third party for employers and employees. Companies face significant challenges trying to gather this data on their own, including: compliance issues, data security, and expertise in diversity and inclusion. Not to mention the fact that employees can be reluctant to share that information with their employers! We go a step further than other companies and help you identify problems and create real solutions that help your company reach your diversity goals. We also use Canadian servers and comply with all Canadian privacy legislation and global best practices. 

When it comes to reporting on diversity we can provide you with the most robust data points you need for reporting and help you build the map to achieve your goals for the future. 

Elisabeth can be reached at [email protected]