What Oscar-winner Frances McDormand can teach corporate Canada | Jennifer Wells

Good linkage with the failure to strengthen diversity in corporations in C-25 Canada Business Corporations Act:

“I have two words for you: inclusion rider.”

If there was a single indelible moment at the 90th Academy Awards celebration Sunday, it was the fierce Frances McDormand wrapping up her winning best actor speech with a call to arms to A-list entertainers with the power to effect change.

There was a great deal of clapping and cheering and, according to Twitter, a great many people wondering: what’s an inclusion rider?

It’s worth viewing Stacy Smith’s TED talk for the answer. Smith is a social scientist who teaches in the communication and journalism school at the University of Southern California. In a clear and swift 15 minutes she takes her audience through a set list of really dispiriting data. In what she deems the “inclusion crisis in Hollywood,” Smith’s statistics include this fact: not quite a third of movie roles go to women. (To qualify for inclusion in the data set, the actor needs to speak but a single word through the entire script.) Surprised? No, of course not. But Smith extrapolates this data to conclude that much has not changed in a half century.

How about power? Auditing 800 films between 2007 and 2015, Smith and her researchers found only 4.1 per cent were directed by women. A total of three films were directed by black or African-American women. One lone film was directed by an Asian woman. The traits of leadership (commanding a crew, being a “visionary”) are seen to be male in nature, industry insiders confided. Hence the results, as Smith said in her talk, “pull male.” Left alone to its own devices, Hollywood does not change.

What does this remind us of?

That’s right, corporate Canada. As it happens, the Academy Awards came just days after the Senate voted down a proposed amendment to Bill C-25, that is, the Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act (and that of co-operatives and not-for-profits, too). That sounds like multiple acts and multiple amendments. The point to glean is this: in hauling the Act into the modern era a group of senators supported the view that publicly traded corporations be compelled to set internal targets to boost diversity, the very ethos of the governing Liberals. The Senate voted against the amendment, 37 to 30, in third reading last Wednesday.

Let’s think about this. Corporations would not be compelled to reach targets by a set date. Corporations would be free to establish for themselves time-lines for the increase of four under-represented groups: women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities. This is a step beyond the “comply-or-explain” declarations of diversity policy. As Senator Paul Massicotte pointed out in tabling the amendment, even with the comply-or-explain rule introduced by the Ontario Securities Commission, the progress of women in leadership roles has been unsatisfactory, budging modestly in board representation, and even more modestly in senior management positions.

Phrased another way, asking nicely doesn’t work.

The result: just as Stacy Smith’s work shows that Hollywood does not reflect the real world, so too corporate Canada.

In supporting the amendment Senator Ratna Omidvar made the case clearly: “This amendment does not ask anyone to climb Mount Everest. It asks for targets, the targets are voluntary, the corporations can set these according to their own history, their own context, their own region and their own industry. This is common business practice.”

The non-partisan bill nevertheless placed Massicotte’s supporters in one corner, and bill sponsor Howard Wetston in the opposing corner. Wetston, readers may recall, is the past chair of the Ontario Securities Commission.

Citing in part Canada’s fragmented securities landscape (can’t we fix that already?), Wetston supported the comply-or-explain model as a “legitimate choice to address diversity at the board and executive level in Canada.” Government can do more within that model, Wetston said in addressing the chamber last week. “They can provide guidelines. They can get the director of corporations candidate to do more. There can be more outreach. Basically, these categories allow for a great deal of opportunity by the government to do more within this model if it so chooses.”

In an interview, Omidvar wonders if part of the failure lies in a lack of clarity. “The lesson I take out of this is that we must do much better at explaining our point of view and making it extremely clear to people that our amendment would not have forced corporations to have quotas,” she says. “Our amendment was simply moving them toward a mature approach to developing strategies. We were told these business corporations have so much work, they can’t do this. That’s not true. Any business corporation that comes under this act is big enough to have people and departments who are devoted to human resources, change management, long-term planning.”

The distinction between the two positions is clear: a soft tap on the shoulder (Omidvar’s description of C-25 as written) and a firm nudge. It goes without saying that the senator is disappointed by the outcome, especially given the aspirations — the brand — of the government of the day.

Stacy Smith had a few suggestions to redress the historic and intractable imbalance in Hollywood. “Just Add Five,” was one, in which scriptwriters would up the presence of roles for women, five at a time. That strategy, Smith concluded, could achieve gender parity in casting in three years. So, goal setting. But remember, a “role” is defined as a single spoken word.

More powerfully, A-list actors could insist on inclusion riders in their contracts, and start to dictate directly how to fix the diversity gap.

That’s what Frances McDormand was advocating.

In corporate environments, this could be a call to arms. Does any incoming A-list CEO have the nerve to insist upon a diversity rider? Now that would be progressive. Ground-breaking, even.

In the meantime, the amendment-sponsoring senators will be stuck monitoring what progress is made as a result of C-25. I’m not holding my breath.

via What Oscar-winner Frances McDormand can teach corporate Canada | Toronto Star


In the age of #MeToo, Muslim women are final­ly break­ing the chains of si­lence: Sheema Khan

Another good column by Sheema Khan:

As the #MeToo move­ment rico­chets through many parts of the world, it has yet to achieve high visi­bil­ity in Muslim cul­tures.

None­the­less, there have been a few laud­able ef­forts to bring sex­ual abuse to the fore­front.

Re­cent­ly, Mona Eltahawy lent her in­flu­en­tial voice to the dis­turbing oc­cur­rence of sex­ual ha­rass­ment at the Kaa­ba, (in Mecca), Islam’s hol­i­est site, through the hashtag #MosqueMeToo. One of the rit­uals of pil­grim­age (both the hajj and umrah) re­quires circ­ling the Kaa­ba sev­en times, while in sol­emn re­mem­brance of God. At times, it can get very crowded. Many women have ex­peri­enced hu­mili­a­tion by men who use the situ­a­tion to grope, poke and fon­dle. Ms. Eltahawy shared her awful ex­peri­ence, when at the age of 15, a guard at the Kaa­ba grabbed her breast. She wrote in sup­port of Sabica Khan, who dis­closed her re­cent hu­mili­a­tion at the Kaa­ba — and en­dured back­lash on so­cial media. Since then, many women have shared their own har­rowing en­coun­ters – for­cing the issue out into the open.

In Pak­istan, fol­lowing the grue­some rape and mur­der of 7-year-old Zainab An­sari, many women came for­ward to tell of their own stor­ies of sex­ual abuse as chil­dren. 73-year-old fash­ion de­sign­er Maheen Khan – a Pak­istani icon – tweeted about sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety by her Koran teach­er her when she was six. A nas­cent #MeToo move­ment is be­gin­ning to make in­roads in con­serv­a­tive Pak­istan, as cour­age­ous women break the chains of shame and si­lence.

There are a num­ber of chal­len­ges fa­cing Muslim women who seek to speak out. These in­clude cul­tur­al and in­sti­tu­tion­al bar­riers (with­in com­mun­ities), and anti-Muslim senti­ment.

Cul­tur­al­ly, pub­lic dis­cus­sion of sex is ta­boo. Yet this is at odds with scrip­tur­al foun­da­tions of the faith. For ex­ample, the Proph­et Mohammed em­pha­sized the right of women to ex­peri­ence sex­ual pleas­ure. In these sources, one finds dis­cus­sion about wet dreams, cli­max and for­bid­dance of inter­course dur­ing men­stru­a­tion and anal sex (at all times). The dis­course is not sal­acious, but in­stead pro­vides guid­ance to the faith­ful. It also builds a frame­work in which sex­ual re­la­tions are seen as nat­ural and a means to cul­ti­vate mercy, love and tranquility be­tween spouses.

Family and clergy are two power­ful in­sti­tu­tions that si­lence women. Rath­er than put­ting shame and re­spon­sibil­ity on sex­ual abus­ers, the onus is placed on the vic­tims to keep quiet, so that the fam­ily’s honour re­mains in­tact. In com­mun­ities in which inter­action be­tween gen­ders is pri­mar­i­ly with­in ex­tended fam­ilies, there are ample op­por­tun­ities for abuse by male rela­tives. When I used to give lec­tures about “women in Islam,” it was de­press­ing­ly com­mon to have a young woman ap­proach me after­ward to con­fide her pain­ful abuse by a cous­in or an uncle dur­ing child­hood. I stopped giv­ing these lec­tures after one young woman broke down about her own fath­er’s in­ces­tu­ous behaviour.

Muslim clergy, schol­ars and Koran teachers gar­ner rev­er­ence for their com­mit­ment to the faith. There­fore, im­pugning sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety against this group is met with stiff re­sist­ance, de­nial and back­lash. Yet, with­out mean­ing­ful ac­count­abil­ity, abuse does hap­pen. Now, women are speak­ing out. In 2016, a prom­in­ent Chicago-based schol­ar, Moham­med Sa­leem, pleaded guilty to sex­ual­ly abus­ing a for­mer stu­dent and an em­ploy­ee at the school he founded. More civil suits are pend­ing. Last year, re­nowned Ko­ran­ic schol­ar Nouman Ali Khan was found to have com­mit­ted spirit­ual abuse and un­ethical behaviour to­ward a num­ber of young women. Last month, Ox­ford University Pro­fes­sor Ta­riq Rama­dan was placed under ar­rest in France, and is awaiting trial against rape char­ges by two women. He de­nies any wrong­doing.

In addi­tion to fa­cing com­mun­ity back­lash for speak­ing out, Muslim women must also con­tend with haters who use their pain to ma­lign an en­tire com­mun­ity.

These hur­dles are not in­sur­mount­able. The time has come to ad­dress sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety head-on.

In Canada, se­cond “se­cret” mar­riages are oc­cur­ring, in which a man takes on a se­cond wife, often un­be­knownst to either wife. This is noth­ing but san­i­ti­za­tion of an extra­mari­tal af­fair. It is a sham, and needs to be called out by the Can­ad­ian Council of Imams.

Last fall, the group Fa­cing Abuse in Community En­viron­ments was launched to hold ac­count­able imams, schol­ars and lead­ers for un­ethical and/or crim­in­al behaviour. A num­ber of in­ves­ti­ga­tions are under way, with ser­ious cases re­ferred to law en­force­ment for pros­ecu­tion.

In the end, we need to em­pow­er women to come forth with­out shame, and put the spot­light on men to take re­spon­sibil­ity for their behaviour.

via In the age of #MeToo, Muslim women are final­ly break­ing the chains of si­lence – The Globe and Mail

New ’pay transparency’ bill from Ontario government aims to close gender wage gap

Always good to have more and better data. However, hard to understand the need in the Ontario public service given salary scales already in place and wonder whether existing mechanisms like the Census are being used and analyzed as effectively as possible to identify more precisely the gaps before adding yet another reporting requirement:

Ontario plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that aims to close the wage gap between women and men in the province.

If passed, the “pay transparency” bill would require all publicly advertised job postings to include a salary rate or range, bar employers from asking about past compensation and prohibit reprisal against employees who do discuss or disclose compensation.

It would also create a framework that would require large employers to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics, and disclose the information to the province.

The pay transparency measures will begin with the Ontario public service before applying to employers with more than 500 employees. It will later extend to those with more than 250 workers.

The government says it will spend up to $50 million over the next three years on the initiative.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce the legislation — called Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment — during a Women’s Empowerment Summit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

“We know that too many women still face systemic barriers to economic advancement,” Wynne said in a statement. “It’s time for change.”

According to the province, the gender wage gap has remained stagnant over the past 10 years, with women earning approximately 30 per cent less than men.

The government said it looked to other jurisdictions to create the basis of its legislation, including existing laws in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Wynne has made the themes of fairness and opportunity key planks of her bid for re-election this spring, pitching policies like the province’s increase to minimum wage and expansion of drug coverage for people aged 25 and under as part of those efforts.

Gender gap shows high-tech sector still stuck in the past — and it could prove costly [immigration numbers as well]

The article focusses on the ongoing gender gap in tech. However, the report (The Digital Talent Dividend) has the above chart showing the large share of immigrants. Unfortunately, there is no breakdown by group but unlikely to differ from other surveys of diversity in tech (strong representation of Asian visible minorities, weak representation of Blacks):

via Gender gap shows high-tech sector still stuck in the past — and it could prove costly – Technology & Science – CBC News

Gender persecution the top reason women seek asylum in Canada

More from the CBC analysis of IRB data (see Acceptance rate for asylum seekers in Canada at a 27-year high – Canada – CBC News):

A CBC News investigation reveals more than 15 per cent of female asylum seekers who arrived in this country in the past five years said they did so to escape persecution for being a woman. It’s the most common reason women seek refuge in Canada, ahead of religious, ethnic or political persecution.

Gender persecution includes practices such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation, as well as domestic abuse at the hands of a partner or family member, which accounted for half of the claims in the data obtained by CBC.

The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) decided on nearly 3,000 domestic violence claims between 2013 and 2017, accepting 58 per cent of them.

Claims based on domestic violence are, like all refugee claims, assessed based on two elements: the risk an individual faces and to what degree they can be protected in their home country, said Catherine Dauvergne, dean of the University of British Columbia’s Peter A. Allard Law School and an expert in refugee and migration law.

“In cases of domestic violence, or really any persecutory harm which happens in the private sphere, the analysis almost always ends up focusing on what kind of state protection is available,” she said.

“The high number of claims that you’re seeing in this dataset is really reflective of the lack of organized, regular, reliable, dependable protection for women in all sorts of places around the world.”Nigeria was the source of the highest number of gender-based claims from women, as well as domestic violence claims, specifically.

In many parts of Nigeria, people believe women should be subservient to men, said Comfort Ero, a Nigerian-Canadian author and women’s rights advocate.

A woman who goes to the police to report domestic abuse would typically be sent home, Ero said, and even chastised by police for betraying her husband.

via Gender persecution the top reason women seek asylum in Canada – Canada – CBC News

For women of colour, there’s a gap within the pay gap: Melayna Williams

Have been working through some of the Census data and the gender gap works both ways depending on the group as the above chart indicates.

Given Williams’ focus on the Black community, which the data supports, her perspective is understandable but the data shows a more complex reality among the different minority groups and gender:

The gender wage gap remains a pertinent issue in Canada, despite how long women have been lending their labour to the workforce. And we often hear statistics that contrast two categories: men and women. On this, the numbers are stark.

But that data doesn’t incorporate filters around identity and background of women, an omission that effectively erases the compounding discrimination faced by non-white women in Canada. A lens that compares only men and women sets up women’s rights as a replica of patriarchy, where one group is favoured over everyone else; in doing so it reinforces the rigid power structures that have brought us to this point. But including race in the analysis reveals a different kind of gender gap that’s perhaps even more alarming than the broader issue.

In a 2011 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report examining census data from 2006, Sheila Block and Grace-Edward Galabuzi found dire income disparities for racialized Canadians. They earn 81.4 cents for each dollar white Canadians make, and the jobs are typically less desirable: low wages, precarious, non-permanent. Add the filter of gender, though, and a much wider, more worrisome gulf appears: “Racialized women earned 55.6 cents for every dollar non-racialized men earned in 2005 . . . Racialized men made 77.9 cents for every dollar non-racialized men earned,” wrote Block and Galabuzi. “The gap narrows even further when comparing racialized and non-racialized women. Racialized women earned 88.2 cents for every dollar that non-racialized women earned.”

Research has been done to identify the core issues and advance solutions around the position of Indigenous and Canadian women of colour in the work market. “Inequality, discrimination and a segmented labour market have left women of colour with earnings at just 64 per cent of men’s, and Aboriginal women’s earnings at just 46 per cent of men’s,” wrote Lisa Lambert in a 2010 paper titled “Gender wage gap even more pronounced for Aboriginal women.” For women of colour and Indigenous women in Canada, she writes, “the earnings situation is inexcusable.”

How are we closer to gender parity in Canada when the gender gap we often think about ignores the unique struggles of women of colour and Indigenous women? If white men are still making more money than white women, can this be acknowledged while addressing the fact that women of colour fall far below both? If we actually believe in the principles of equality with which Canada so proudly associates itself, we must acknowledge both crises: the gap between men and women, and that between racialized women and everyone else.

Source: For women of colour, there’s a gap within the pay gap

Saudi Shura Council approves citizenship amendment study | GulfNews.com

Inching forward:

History could be in the making in Saudi Arabia after the Shura Council cleared the first hurdle by approving a study of two proposals to amend the citizenship law and allow women to pass on the Saudi citizenship to their children.

The proposals were initially submitted by three members in the previous term — Haya Al Manee’, Thuraya Abaid and Wafa Teeba — and taken up by two current members — Latifa Al Shaalan and Atta Al Subaiti.

Following a heated debate at the council on Tuesday, 63 members voted in favour of the amendments, ensuring that they are passed. They now go to the security committee that will present a final report to be discussed by the council at a later stage.

During the discussion on Tuesday, Shura member Fahd Al Enezi, a legal expert, said he vehemently opposed the amendments, resorting to religion to highlight his argument.

“Children must be attributed to their fathers, not to their mothers as is clearly stated in our religion,” he said. “A Saudi woman has the option to marry a non-Saudi. It is her choice. However, the citizenship is not her option and she is aware that her children will not obtain the Saudi citizenship.”

However, Faisal Al Fadil, also a legal expert, said that citizenship is a human right within the religion and is part of the fight against discrimination.

Mohammad Al Ali used economic arguments to call for defeating the proposals.

“Saudi Arabia is basically a desert nation and the quantity of water is limited,” he said as he presented virtual statistics about the high population in case Saudi women passed on their citizenship to their children, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Wednesday.

Abdullah Al Harbi warned of a waste of resources.

“Most of those born to Saudi mothers are competent and not giving them the Saudi citizenship is a loss to an efficient segment in the Saudi society, especially that they grew up in the kingdom and were educated here,” he said.

“Most countries allow women to pass on their citizenship, including in some Arab countries that have high population figures but whose economic development standards do not keep up with those of Saudi Arabia.”

He said that granting the citizenship would alleviate economic burdens for families and ensure promises of a brighter future for the children.

The issue of residency permits and entry visas required from non-Saudis living in the kingdom hampers the academic progress of the sons and daughters studying abroad since they have to go back to Saudi Arabia before their expiry, he said.

“The sons and daughters who are born in Saudi Arabia and grow up here develop strong links to their family and the Saudi society. Such attributes instill in them a sense of allegiance and belonging. However, if they are treated after graduation from colleges as foreigners, they are bound to face a multitude of hurdles even if they are top of their classes,” Al Harbi said.

Iqbal Darandari said she fully supported the amendment proposals.

“True faith is to be fair to all people,” she said. “There are children born here in Saudi Arabia to Saudi mothers. They grew up here and they know no other land. Where will they go if they do not have the citizenship?”

Darandari said that everyone should feel they are accountable before God for not assisting people.

In her argument, Noora Al Musaad said there was a deep need for endorsing the amendments.

“Most countries across the world allow mothers to pass on their citizenship to their children,” she said. “What we now have is a form of discrimination.”

via Saudi Shura Council approves citizenship amendment study | GulfNews.com

John Ivison: Senate amendments to gender diversity bill set to test Trudeau’s feminist principles

Find Ivison overly alarmist here. Requiring companies to have diversity plans but allowing them to set their own targets, with annual reporting, is a reasonable balance between doing virtually nothing and moving the yardstick.

There are likely some changes that may be needed (e.g., size of companies that are covered).

Bu is meritocracy really at risk as Ivison argues? Seem to recall same argument being used each time organizations want to increase diversity:

Are there any limits to how far Justin Trudeau will go to foster diversity and inclusion? We may be about to find out.

While he was in Davos, the prime minister made a big deal about the representation of women on corporate boards.

“Companies should have a formal policy on gender diversity and make the recruitment of women candidates a priority,” he said in his speech to the World Economic Forum.

To this end, the Liberal government has introduced a bill (C-25) to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, which (among other things) requires companies to place their diversity policy before their shareholders, and if they fail to do so, to explain why (the widely adopted “comply or explain” approach).

Even that level of intervention has some free marketers wondering what business it is of the government to interfere in the running of private corporations.

But the current proposal is tame compared to amendments being proposed by a group of influential senators that will have many executives choking on their Porterhouse steak.

The six senators — Serge Joyal, Frances Lankin, Paul Massicotte, Lucie Moncion, Ratna Omidvar and André Pratte — have written to their colleagues saying they believe the current bill “lacks teeth.”

They would like to add amendments that would force the 270,000 companies incorporated under the CBCA to adopt diversity policies that set numerical goals and timetables on female, indigenous, disabled and visible minority board representation. Companies would have to report their progress not just to their shareholders but, “for the purposes of monitoring,” to the government. Ministers would be required to prepare and publish a report on the data – a clear indication that further corrective action could one day be taken.

“To be clear: our amendment would not set quotas,” the senators say.

Nonetheless, quotas would be set, even if, at this stage, by the companies themselves.

The senators are now rallying their colleagues and if they have the votes, bill C-25 will be sent back to the House of Commons. One source said there appears to be a critical mass of senators in favour of the amendments, which will likely be introduced next week.

At that point, Trudeau will have a decision to make. While the government has not looked kindly on Senate amendments, Trudeau charged senators to use their independent judgment to improve government legislation. He is unlikely to want to shirk what he sees as his moral duty to promote diversity and inclusion.

Carol Hansell, senior partner at the Toronto law firm Hansell LLP, is critical of the bill in its existing form for a number of reasons, principally because it will force companies to hold annual elections of individual directors — the concept of majority voting. She said she believes governance should flow from securities regulation, not corporate statute, which she deems too rigid to respond to changing circumstances.

Hansell thinks the same is true of the diversity issue and that many people would find the imposition of government oversight “objectionable.”

“I think everyone is uncomfortable with quotas. It’s too blunt a tool,” she said.

Even Trudeau shied away from anything that resembled a quota in the legislation. When Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains introduced the bill, he said it would “contribute to an inclusive economic growth agenda” but would not unduly burden business.

The bill was deemed sufficiently benign by the Conservatives that they supported it – pointing out much of it was based on their economic action plan.

The “comply or explain” model has already been adopted by the Canadian Securities Administrators, covering most of Canada’s publicly traded companies.

The dissenting senators point out the results have been unspectacular over the past few years — 14 per cent of board seats are now occupied by women, up from 11 per cent in 2015.

Only 1.1 per cent of board members are Indigenous, 3.2 per cent have disabilities and 4.3 per cent belong to visible minorities.

As a share of the population, all four groups are under-represented (women and girls make up 50.4 per cent of the Canadian population; three per cent are Indigenous; 19.9 per cent are visible minorities and 13.7 per cent report some kind of disability).

Smart companies are moving toward board representation that more accurately reflects their shareholders and customers.

But we are veering into dangerous territory when we reject the notion of meritocracy as a mechanism that merely re-inforces male privilege.

Change is happening before our eyes, even if it is not as rapid as some might like.

But it is simply not the role of government to dictate who should be running the nation’s businesses.

Source: John Ivison: Senate amendments to gender diversity bill set to test Trudeau’s feminist principles

Senate proposal would force companies to set diversity targets for board of directors

Clear from current data that a nudge needed, with annual reporting to provide accountability:

In an effort to bolster the number of women, Indigenous people and racial minorities sitting on corporate boards, a group of senators is poised to amend government legislation that would force companies to set internal diversity targets.

Independent Ontario Sen. Ratna Omidvar, one of six members of the Red Chamber backing the amendment, said the Liberal government’s current approach in Bill C-25, which would simply encourage companies to boost gender diversity without applying any sort of target, is too timid.

The amendment would compel all publicly traded Canadian companies — roughly 600 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) — to set targets for increasing underrepresented groups, but would leave it up to each company to decide on what the target should be.

“The bill, as it currently stands, is just a tap on the shoulder, whereas our amendment turns the tap into more of an intentional nudge in the right direction,” Omidvar, an expert in diversity, said in an interview with CBC News. The amendment is expected to be introduced by Independent Sen. Paul Massicotte on Thursday, some 18 months after the bill was first tabled in the House of Commons.

Voluntary approach not good enough: senator

Under the government’s bill, a diversity policy is not mandatory. If a company does not develop one, they would simply have to tell their shareholders why, the so-called “comply or explain” approach adopted by other regulators in Canada.

“For us, that’s too soft a nudge,” Omidvar said. “What we may well get, as a result of this bill, is corporations developing diversity policies and putting them on the shelf and no action.”

Omidvar points to research from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), an umbrella group of provincial securities regulators, which suggests a voluntary approach to diversity has led to little improvement.

Only 14 per cent of board seats are occupied by women, a three-percentage-point progress from 11 per cent in 2015. Forty-five per cent of all publicly listed companies do not have a single woman sitting on their board of directors. As for senior management, only 15 per cent of positions are filled by women, a proportion that has not progressed at all since 2015.

The research found that 1.1 per cent of board members are Indigenous, 3.2 per cent are persons with a disability and 4.3 per cent are members of a visible minority.

CSA also found that only 9 per cent of companies have internal targets for women on their boards, with a mere 2 per cent having targets for women in executive positions.

Omidvar said targets are not “quotas” per se as each company would be able to decide how many diverse candidates should be added to a board, but, at the very at least, they will have to commit to doing more.

Those targets, and a company’s success in meeting them, would then have to be reported to the federal government on an annual basis.

In turn, the minister responsible, the innovation minister, would prepare a public report documenting how well companies in Canada, writ large, have done in adding women and minorities to the seats of power at these companies. The company would also have to disclose progress to shareholders at their annual meetings.

Importantly, the amendment would actually define what exactly “diversity” is as the government’s bill, as currently written, is vague on that question.

If passed, the amended bill would compel companies to replicate definitions used by the federal government, namely that “diverse” candidates would include women, visible minorities, Indigenous people and those with disabilities. Notably, LGBTQ people would be excluded under such a definition.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains is unconvinced amendments are necessary and will not support this move to alter his bill.

“The minister has been clear that the act and the forthcoming regulations are an appropriate and balanced approach that will facilitate a conversation on diversity between shareholders and the management and boards,” a spokesperson said in a statement to CBC News.

The spokesperson pointed to the success of the “comply or explain” model in the United Kingdom and Australia, where the number of women on boards stands at more than 20 per cent in both jurisdictions.

“Given this, we believe Bill C-25 is a good bill for corporations, stakeholders, shareholders, and all Canadians, and hope for its quick passage through the Senate,” he said.

Opposition to quotas

There is a reluctance from some in the business community to set hard quotas — as has been done in Norway, for example, where 40 per cent of all seats must be occupied by a woman.

Paul Schneider, a senior executive at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, one of the largest institutional investors in the country, told the Senate committee studying Bill C-25 last month that he’d like to see a culture shift rather than the imposition of quotas.

“To be truly impactful, boards must take ownership of diversity. With a quota, they can abdicate ownership to the government,” he said.

“In the short run, quotas can indeed lead to greater diversity, but we fear that while establishing a quota incents boards to hit a specific number, it may hinder any progress over and above that target … Diversity should be achieved because it is good, sound business, not because it is a rule,” he said.

Omidvar said many companies are naturally sceptical of more regulation. “Generally, this is not particular to this bill, business leaders feel the less encumbered they are, the more capacity they will have to succeed in their business goals … but, as I’ve pointed out, [the amendment] just takes the bill from a tap to a nudge.”

And yet the proposed reporting regulations have the potential to be onerous as the more than 600 companies would have to take stock of how each of their board members (some have more than 20) identify, and then report that information to the government where the data would then be analyzed and catalogued, taking up time, money, and other resources.

Others, including Conservative Sen. Betty Unger, have said appointments should simply be based on who is best for the business.

“People invest in corporations to get a return on their investment, and this is best accomplished by appointing merit-based people to boards … As a woman — and, as you can see, I am not young — I could never feel good about myself if I knew that I got a position simply because I am a woman,” she said at a Nov. 30 committee meeting on the bill.

via Senate proposal would force companies to set diversity targets for board of directors – Politics – CBC News


Wielding Data, Women Force a Reckoning Over Bias in the Economics Field – The New York Times

Look forward to any comments by Canadian economists on this good example of gender-based analysis:

It is not difficult to find an all-male panel at the annual January mega-gathering of American economists. They are as common as PowerPoint presentations and pie charts. One such panel this year met to sleepily critique President Trump’s economic policies, but it was overshadowed by another panel, two ballrooms away, that jolted a profession that prides itself on cool rationality.

That panel on Friday was stocked with women, each of whom presented new research that revealed a systemic bias in economics and presaged a move by the field’s leaders to promise to address some of those issues.

Paper after paper presented at the American Economic Association panel showed a pattern of gender discrimination, beginning with barriers women face in choosing to study economics and extending through the life cycle of their careers, including securing job opportunities, writing research papers, gaining access to top publications and earning proper credit for published work.

Economics departments have gradually increased their share of female faculty members over the past 20 years. But only one in five tenure-track economics professors is a woman, according to the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession.

In many parts of the profession, gender progress stagnated over the last decade. About one in three new economics doctoral students was a woman in 2016, and fewer than one in three assistant professors were women. In both of those cases, the share of women was essentially unchanged from 2006.

A Shrinking Pipeline of Women in Economics Departments

A 2016 survey of 126 economics departments with doctoral programs found that while the female share of doctoral students and faculty has increased significantly since the 1970s, the representation of women drops at each step on the track to full, tenured professor.

The focus on gender bias in economics began simmering in August, when Alice Wu, an economist from the University of California, Berkeley, detailed in a research paper how the website Economics Job Market Rumors, a much-read, anonymous job-rumor forum and message board for economists, had become a hotbed of harassment, with female economists frequently described in often sexual and crude terms.

But the barriers women face in this long male-dominated field extend well beyond online harassment. Women must be significantly clearer writers than men to have their work accepted to major economic journals, according to a paper, titled “Publishing While Female,” that Erin Hengel, a University of Liverpool economist, reported at the conference. They must also wait longer to have their papers published in journals.

The bias creeps into the most popular introductory economics textbooks, which refer to men four times as often as they do women. Ninety percent of the economists cited in those textbooks are men, Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist, told the panel on gender issues in economics, based on a paper she is about to complete. When women are mentioned in textbook examples, they are more likely to be shopping or cleaning than running a company or making public policy.

Missing From Economics Textbooks: Women

An analysis presented at a January gathering of economists found that men make up the vast majority of people mentioned in economics textbooks, even dominating references to business leaders and policy makers.

The reckoning in economics comes amid a larger national examination of bias and abuse toward women in the work force, across industries including entertainment, manufacturing and journalism. But the existence of bias in the field of economics is rattling a profession that, at its core, functions through objective interpretation and extrapolation of data, statistics and evidence.

Leaders of the American Economic Association announced on Friday night that they would begin to address bias concerns more seriously, by setting up an alternative to the online jobs site and drafting a code of conduct for economists. But many economists said that those steps were late, and that they left much work to be done to ensure fairness for women in the field, where the rate of entry for women lags that of math, engineering and other hard sciences.

“The time had come for the organization to make a more proactive statement,” said Peter L. Rousseau, the chairman of the economics department at Vanderbilt University and the association’s secretary-treasurer. He cast the decision as responding to evidence in a way that was natural for the profession. “Economists, I think, are just very objective in their view of the world,” he said.

In interviews during and after the conference, prominent women in economics described how their profession throws barriers in their professional paths, and they criticized the male-dominated leadership in the field for moving slowly to tear those barriers down.

“I don’t think it’s because we don’t know what is implicit bias. We know,” said Rhonda Sharpe, the president of the National Economics Association, which was founded to promote the professional development of minorities in the field. “It’s whether we stand up and call it out, and usually we don’t.”

The annual conference brings together several economics groups, the largest among them the American Economics Association. Before this year’s conference, two economists — Heidi Hartmann, the president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and Michael Reich, a labor economist at Berkeley — circulated a petition calling on the association’s leaders to establish their own job market website where comments would be moderated and sexist postings blocked. The petition was eventually signed by more than 1,000 economists, and, on Friday, the association agreed to start its own job site.

“I see this as a big deal,” Abigail Wozniak, an economist at Notre Dame who was active in advocating a new job market site, said by email. “I think the reaction of the A.E.A. was driven in part by a recognition that economics can become more inclusive on a number of dimensions.”

Janet Currie, chairwoman of Princeton’s economics department, and Claudia Goldin, an economist at Harvard, pointed to a recent study that found that women get significantly less credit than men when they co-write papers with them, as reflected in the way the paper affects their chances of receiving tenure.

When the co-author is a man, “people don’t say anything about it, it’s just normal,” Ms. Currie said. “When it’s a woman, it’s: ‘Oh, everything she wrote is with co-authors. How do we know she’s any good?’”

She said the behavior, detailed in a paper by Heather Sarsons of Harvard, was related to a more widespread phenomenon. “There are lots of examples of when a woman says something, no one pays attention,” Ms. Currie said. “A man says the same thing, everyone says it’s great. It happens a lot.”

Sarah A. Jacobson, an environmental economist at Williams College, recounted an experience during graduate school that she said was indicative: A well-respected female economist delivering a talk at her department was repeatedly interrupted by male economists when trying to answer questions from the audience.

“In the middle of the seminar, a male economist I respect turned around — they’re in the audience — and they were explaining the answer for her, on her behalf,” Ms. Jacobson said.

“You see it all the time,” she added. “You occasionally see it if a male is presenting. You see it pretty often if a woman is presenting.”

Kate Bahn, an economist at the Center for American Progress, said that when she was in graduate school, she was told she was not invited to a regular poker game with her male cohorts, because it included “locker-room talk.” She also noticed that her specialties, labor and gender economics, were viewed as more associated with women, and thus less rigorous.

“What there really needs to be is a broader cultural change,” she said.

Ms. Hengel, the University of Liverpool economist, used readability tests to conclude that papers written by female economists are on average up to 6 percent better-written than those of men, and that those by women languish in peer review a half-year longer than those of men.

She became interested in the topic as a graduate student, she said, when watching a male friend teach a course and noticing the difference in how students reacted to him compared with how they reacted to her.

“When you’re teaching something, when you really nail an explanation, the front row just lights up,” she said. But she watched her friend’s class light up, “even though he wasn’t nailing it.”

Ms. Sharpe, of the N.E.A., said the bias against African-American women, who continue to make up a tiny slice of the economics profession, was especially pronounced. Ms. Sharpe’s data show that only 52 black women earned economics doctorates between 2006 and 2015, a slight increase from the 46 who earned them in the previous decade.

“All of this conversation about misogyny with women is not having a conversation about black women,” she said. “I think of us as the incredible invisible woman.”

Ms. Stevenson’s analysis of the seven leading introductory economics textbooks found that female economists were all but invisible. More than 90 percent of real-world business leaders mentioned in the books were men. Three in five fictional characters whom the authors invented to illustrate a concept were men.

Only 6 percent of the policymakers referred to in the textbooks were women. One woman accounted for more than half of those references: Janet L. Yellen, the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, who is about to be replaced by a man.

via Wielding Data, Women Force a Reckoning Over Bias in the Economics Field – The New York Times