Good morning, members of the committee, and thank you for the invitation to speak today on this important subject. It is an honour to be here and to share my thoughts.
I thought it might be useful to provide some biographical information. I am from the United States, and I completed a bachelor's degree in art history at Columbia University in New York and a master's degree in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU. I have been working in the visual arts in New York and Toronto for more than 20 years. I joined Art Toronto in 2010 and was promoted to director in 2014.
Art Toronto was founded in 2000 and it is Canada's only international art fair for modern and contemporary art. While there are more than 300 commercial art fairs worldwide, and dozens in the U.S., Canada has only one. Art Toronto is a five-day annual consumer event that takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and it is the largest and most important annual visual arts event in Canada. It has grown to become an essential meeting and networking event for arts professionals from across the country.
The fair is composed of approximately 100 Canadian and international commercial art galleries selling modern and contemporary art as well as hosting booths for art museums and other not-for-profit art spaces, art magazines, and curated projects. A multi-day program of talks and tours featuring prominent art-world figures takes place throughout the duration of the fair.
In 2017 Art Toronto was attended by more than 23,000 art collectors, art professionals, and art lovers, and it contributed over $10 million to the arts economy through artwork sales, in addition to tourism dollars spent in the city during those five days. Art Toronto's opening night event is a fundraiser for the Art Gallery of Ontario, raising close to $400,000 annually for the gallery's exhibitions and programs.
Art Toronto is owned by Informa, a multinational company headquartered in the U.K. Informa has 7,500 employees worldwide and is a leading business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge, and events business.
In thinking about your request to speak about gender parity on the boards of Canadian cultural institutions and among artistic leaders across Canada, I did some research into Informa's hiring policies and the programs it has put into place to reach the company's goals in terms of employee diversity. While I was pleased to learn that 56% of Informa's employees are female, in the leadership groups at the higher levels this number drops to 27%, and in the directorships at the highest level the number drops even further to 22%. The number of female directors, however, is a higher percentage in Informa's Canada offices.
A similar trend can be found in U.S. and Canadian art museums. In 2018, though, I do not believe that it's sufficient to look at gender parity in these institutions and across the arts in Canada without also considering ethnic diversity.
In the U.S. and Canada there are clear disparities in gender representation in museum directorships, depending on operating budget size. The majority of museums with budgets less than $15 million are run by a female rather than a male director. The reverse is true for museums with budgets of over $15 million, where female representation decreases as budget size increases.
A study published by Canadian Art magazine in April 2017, entitled “Hard Numbers: A Study on Diversity in Canada's Galleries”, looks not only at gender discrepancies but also at the demographics of museum staff by job title. While the top directorships skew towards men in these roles, the study finds that visible minorities and indigenous people are severely under-represented at all levels of gallery administration, including curators and directors.
While these numbers have a variety of effects across an organization, it is perhaps most visible when looking at the gender and ethnicity breakdown of solo exhibitions presented at these institutions. A 2015 report by Canadian Art magazine looked at these exhibitions from 2013 until 2015 at one major institution in each province, plus the National Gallery of Canada, focusing on living artists by gender breakdown and racial distribution. The national average of this study showed that 56% of these solo exhibitions were given to white male artists, 33% to white female artists, 8% to non-white male artists, and 3% to non-white female artists. That is to say, what happens at the top affects what visitors see and experience at these institutions.
Informa has put into place new company-wide programs in the past few years to improve the gender balance at the senior management level and to create more diversity overall throughout the company. I think that some of these initiatives could be applied to the issue of gender parity and diversity in Canadian cultural institutions and on their boards.
Several years ago, an Informa graduate fellowship scheme and an Informa apprenticeship scheme were introduced, as well as a leadership development program to increase professional leadership skills, provide networking and collaboration opportunities, and to support succession planning, which is essential in any institution.
I believe that this last point about leadership, mentorship, and succession planning is key in developing future leaders in the arts in Canada who reflect the diversity and plurality of the Canadian population of the 21st century, and of the communities that these institutions exist to serve. This lack of leadership training resources to date in Canada has been cited as the reason that many of Canada's, and specifically Toronto's, more recent hires for CEOs, including the AGO, the ROM, and the McMichael, have all hired from outside Canada.
Like Informa's programs, I am aware of two excellent leadership development programs to be considered as examples, but also as opportunities for Canadians. The Clore Leadership Programme, in the U.K., aids in the professional growth of museum professionals; and in the U.S., the Getty Leadership Institute assists top-level museum and cultural executives from around the world to become better leaders, with the aim of strengthening their own institutions' capabilities, as well as advancing the international museum field.
Some good news is that new leadership programs in Canada are now available, including those at the Banff Centre, the Cultural Human Resources Council, and through Business for the Arts. These programs are a start, but more needs to be done to provide leadership training resources to a greater number of people in the culture sector, and to provide specific outreach to women, indigenous people, and visible minorities.
The resources of the federal government could help to make these existing programs more robust, and the government could work with other partners to provide additional opportunities. For example, the government could work with partner institutions from across Canada such as the Remai Modern, Ryerson University, the National Gallery, and The Rooms, to develop a cross-country leadership program with candidates in each location who meet annually for a leadership summit, with the opportunity to present and share ideas and meet with national and international arts sector leaders. These programs could be developed to specifically target female and diverse candidates that reflect Canada's population, and could create a new generation of Canadian leaders in the arts and culture sector.
I've also been asked to share my thoughts on gender parity on visual arts boards. The good news there is that these boards do have majority representation for women, though visible minorities and indigenous people are again greatly under-represented. I believe this needs to change.
In addition to my work at Art Toronto, I'm also a founding member of the board of the Toronto Biennial of Art, a new multi-venue art event that is set to launch in 2019. We are in the process of board-building and have set ourselves the task of building a diverse board of talented and passionate arts supporters who reflect our core values as an organization.
In considering how the federal government could work with partners to diversify these boards, I think this could be most effective in the grant application process. The Canada Council for the Arts has recently updated its funding policies with an emphasis on diversity as funding criteria that have a new weight. In this vein, there could be a preferred status given to charities or not-for-profit organizations that are working to address the issue of diversity in their representation, and these organizations could be eligible for more support for their projects. This could, in turn, lead organizations to create a greater range of board roles that encourage participation from a broader range of potential members.
Thank you again for the invitation to speak today.
Good morning, everyone.
Thank you for inviting me this morning.
Like any good teacher, I prepared a PowerPoint presentation.
I am not an arts expert at all. That’s what I said to the people who invited me. However, I have done a lot of work on the presence of women on boards of directors and their impact on them, mainly in Quebec, in various sectors of activity, both public and private. Today, I want to talk to you about lessons learned from those research projects. Like any good teacher, I likely have material for two or three hours, but I will try to limit myself to 10 minutes. As you can see, at the end of my presentation, I added the list of publications. We have published four or five reports on the issue. So there is probably a lot to say.
I tried to answer the four questions I was asked.
First, is gender parity an issue in organizations, on boards of directors and among senior management? The answer is yes. I do not want to give you any figures this morning, because I think everyone has them already. We know that the percentage of women on boards is about 20%. The number is pretty much the same for the boards of large, publicly traded companies.
In the Government of Quebec, this percentage has gone up because it passed a piece of legislation and set a quota a few years ago.
In short, it is a persistent issue, despite women being the majority in universities and colleges.
What I want to say to you this morning is that this is not a talent pool problem. I am convinced that all the skills are there, mainly in the field of the arts. There is a talent pool problem in the science and engineering sector, because fewer women are studying in those areas, and that is an issue. In all the other areas, however, for example medicine, law and administration, women are there and they are competent, even though we hear that it’s not always easy to find women to fill certain positions.
There is also a perception that equality is achieved in feminized sectors. People ask me why I’m working on that, since there are lots of women in the arts, law firms and hospitals. That’s true, but they are not sufficiently represented in decision-making positions. You know as well I do that there are still significant pay inequities for all sorts of reasons that we can talk about again later. There is still a lot to do on this front. Yes, we have the impression that there’s parity, but that is not actually the case yet.
When I meet with the presidents or members of boards, they all say that they are in favour of equality and diversity. The discourse is very interesting. I have never heard anyone say that they were against that. However, when you ask shareholders meetings, board members or related associations to take concrete action, that's a whole different story. There are things we could do; I can come back to this later.
It has been suggested that the appointment of women to boards would have a significant impact on organizations' senior management, but that is not the case. My colleague Jean Bédard and I are currently conducting gender parity studies on boards of directors and we are following the statistics. The situation is stagnant except in the government and crown corporations.
People tell us that it's easy to appoint people to boards of directors, but the real challenge is at the senior level of organizations, because that's where the decisions are mostly made. I'm not saying that boards are not important, far from it, but the bulk of the work is done at the senior level of organizations. The two do not always go hand in hand.
Furthermore, women are not automatically pro-women. I am often told that, since we have appointed women, the problem is solved. I often say that, if we do not change the system and the organizational practices, even if women have been appointed, there will not necessarily be a change. It's sort of the same with diversity. If the pattern stays the same, it will not change. This does not automatically mean that women will promote new topics and have more clout. People have told me that they had appointed women and that, fortunately, nothing changed.
Boards are fairly traditional organizations. If we want real change, the people appointed to boards must make real changes and work in a real context of diversity and equality.
In addition, there is clearly a lack of data tracking. When we request data from organizations, including large corporations, we have difficulty obtaining the percentage of women in senior management and the percentage of women on boards. That's important, and that's what we're doing right now: we're tracking the data to disrupt the perception of equality that we are constantly seeing when people think the matter is settled.
I now turn to the second question: why are women not asked to join boards?
There are still many stereotypes. It’s incredible how many stereotypes there are about women being like this and men being like that.
There are many stereotypes related to work-life balance. Some people are a little tired of hearing about it, but you have to talk about it because it's not settled.
It is a major issue for women, but also for men, especially young men, as we are hearing more and more. People don't have enough time. Sitting on a board is extra, on top of other activities, quite often. Management positions require time. Sometimes, people will not accept a decision-making position because they say that they already have a job and a family, so they have no time to do more.
So there is this perception: we are not going to try to recruit some women, because we think that they are already busy enough and that we cannot ask them to do this as well. There are also women who exclude themselves by saying that they are quite busy, that they do not want to do more, out of respect for their spouse, and that it will be difficult to balance it all.
Furthermore, there are stereotypes related to the skills gap. I still hear remarks that women lack leadership, have difficulty communicating and do not have enough knowledge in the field. As I said earlier, I do not buy this discourse anymore. Frankly, I don't think we're there anymore. There are skills galore.
We must also stop reinforcing the stereotypes that women are more human and more open to dialogue, or that men are more this or that. This kind of rhetoric reinforces stereotypes, and we can't go very far with that. Instead, we need to work together and stop confining people to predetermined roles, such as women on human resources committees.
People also have the reflex of asking people from their own network. It’s common for the boards to ask people they know, because that’s what the appointment process is. Real skills profiles must therefore be built using real appointment mechanisms. That helps a great deal with getting out of the pool. Board chairs have told me that they could easily find someone in two or three days, but it might take them two or three weeks if they had to find women or people specifically in certain communities. It sometimes takes longer, but they have to make the effort to step outside their own networks.
I forgot to mention the discourse on competence. We often hear people say that they do not choose candidates based on whether they are women, youth or people from other backgrounds, but rather based on their skills. However, this discourse on competence denies one problem. Skills have nothing to do with choosing a man or a woman. Basically, it is important to recognize that people are competent, but that now the boards must overcome inequities and that, at some point, they have to make specific choices. This does not mean that people are not competent.
There is also a limited turnover in these positions. It is important to keep that in mind. People have asked me how many years it would take to achieve a quota that we might decide to set. We have to look at turnover in positions every four or five years. If we want to appoint women, we have to take that into account.
In addition, the same people are often asked to sit on boards, and that's true for women too. It is therefore important to diversify the pool of candidates.
As for the organizational measures, I will talk about them quickly. I think we need to discuss this issue openly. We must adjust the selection criteria to what we truly want to achieve. It is not necessarily a question of lowering the requirements, but of sometimes changing them according to the traditional experiences of women and men as well. We must enable everyone to participate in board governance. We must stop thinking that we are going to train only women because they lack skills. We need to work on organizational measures rather than single strategies.
Finally, what can be done to promote parity? There are a few methods.
Collect data, as I said.
Avoid working only on single strategies. Let's stop saying that this is the problem of women. This is the problem of organizations. That's what I wanted to say this morning.
Legislative measures can produce slightly more concrete results than simply explaining why the organization does not have women. That does not improve parity much.
Avoid magic bullets.
Do not focus solely on boards. I mentioned that.
Encourage organizations and senior executives to review their practices, not just ask women to adapt.
Take into account the impact of maternity. It's part of reality. In the culture sector, people have atypical hours and have a hard time finding childcare.
Implement communications strategies to highlight the progress made on adding women to organizations' boards.
Spread the word about innovative experiences. Right now, I'm doing a lot of work on good practices, if you're interested. I am working on case studies. Many people are doing interesting things, and those need to be documented in organizations.
Do not believe that things will get better by themselves. I do not look that old, but I've been working on this for 25 years and things are not fixed.
Finally, it is important to work in partnership with stakeholders. I hear all the time that the new generations, in two or three years, will fix the situation. That is not true, because they will use the same mould. If the work is not done at the level of the organizations, the changes will be smaller.
Thank you very much to all the witnesses.
I am very happy to see Ms. Allin and Ms. Downey. It's been a long time since we've seen each other.
Thank you very much for being here.
Actually, I would like to thank my colleague, Ms. Dzerowicz, for bringing this topic to the heritage committee. I think that we're quite in time.
There's an article by Mario Girard in this morning's edition of La Presse, that mentions, as Ms. Rosenstock did, that the Canada Council for the Arts is obviously in favour of parity. He quotes Simon Brault of the Canada Council for the Arts, “The question of women's place in the arts is currently being asked”. The article indicates that Simon Brault insists that “major work must be done in the field of classical music, where composers are overwhelmingly male”. It goes on and states, and this is very interesting, “These measures would be added to the practice of blind auditions, adopted by most of the major classical orchestras in the country”. I didn't even know that existed. It seems that it “gives visible results”. Mr. Brault says the Canada Council for the Arts “must come up with a plan very soon” on parity.
Mrs. Brière, thank you very much for your enthusiasm. Obviously, everyone was very excited about your findings and analyses, and we can't wait to read your documents. However, you raise the fact that appointing women to boards of directors is not a panacea for achieving parity. Moreover, I tip my hat to my colleague Ms. Dzerowicz on this subject. Rather, you suggest going to senior management, that is, managers and boards of directors.
You also mentioned the work-life balance, and I sincerely believe that a broader range of child care services in Canada would certainly be a step in the right direction. In itself, it can be said that this would certainly help women to be more visible in senior positions. It's also an incentive, not a brake. I went to Denmark and Sweden this fall to see to what extent early childhood services were used by men. I saw many dads go out with their children. It was striking; I didn't spend my time counting them with a digital counter, but it was obvious.
I would like to take this opportunity of having ACTRA with us today to ask them a question. In all your observations, one thing struck me. You gave the example of the law firms. The succession is there, but there is indeed a kind of societal model that could discourage this aspiration to a management position. I think the people at ACTRA are directly tied to film sets, and they can see that.
Do you believe that we could do better in the models that youth see on television and in movies? Should we impose criteria?
I'm sure Ms. Downey has a position on that, and she doesn't cease calling for better roles for all members of her union.
Perhaps we can start with the witnesses who are joining us remotely; it would be simpler.
Yes. I really have a lot to say, the systemic changes are so complex. I would like to be able to tell you what to do and offer you a short 10-step guide, but the fact is that for some people to occupy decision-making positions, you have to prepare the entire sector and the entire organization. But it takes 20 years. I've studied cases where the proportion of women started at 20% and increased to 40% or 50%. But, it took about twenty years.
First, how do you recruit people and how to train them on arrival? Often, once people are recruited, they are left to their own devices. They are asked to organize themselves, on the pretext that they are the ones who wanted to do this job. But it's not necessarily about people who have been doing this job forever.
Then you have to see what working conditions are offered to them. In all the sectors I studied, people who had a first child lost credibility, and their progress was slowed down. I apologize for saying it, but that's the reality.
I'm currently studying police officers in Quebec. This is a very big step backwards. When policewomen have their first child, they are said to be careerless and not real policewomen. If they have a second one, it's worse. If they have a third, it's a question of their credibility. You have to know that they continue to accumulate seniority even if they have been gone for three years out of a total of six years, for example. All other police officers are very frustrated that these women are being offered a decision-making position when they have been home for three years. According to them, they only had to not have any children. That's what people tell us.
It remains that it is a choice of society. This is the reality: women have children.
The problem comes up in law firms as well. Women with children lose their cases. This environment is so competitive that wanting children is associated with not being a careerist. It is considered that it will be up to these women to get by when they return to work. In this system, it's performance at all costs.
To really change things, you have to focus on those values. If people have children or haven't worked in the film industry for 25 years, they have to be given a chance. They need to be supported and offered good working conditions. When they come back to work, they have to be followed, integrated, helped and accompanied to decision-making positions. You see, it will work for women as well as members of cultural communities.
I wasn't given explicit directions about precisely what you wanted me to talk about, other than gender parity and gender representation on cultural and arts boards, so I'm going to talk very briefly about the sorts of things that I'm happy to take questions on.
First, I think it's clearly important to be concerned with diverse representation on these boards, particularly as recipients of federal government funding. The nature of accountability that the government needs to provide to the representativeness and the fairness of both the process, but also the outcome, of board membership, is critical really. A number of countries around the world are moving towards gender quotas, to gender targets, specifically. Indeed, one of the commentators has called it a kind of quota fever around the world. We see quotas being used in terms of electoral systems, and also increasingly in terms of corporate boards. So we have a measure in Canada, introduced in Canada, but Norway is really the leader in this having introduced the requirement of 40% women across all kinds of public and private boards in addition to electoral representation.
There are, of course, a number of studies about the process of these placements and increases of women and what they're able to say about changes in perceptions of women in leadership roles, and also with respect to the kinds of decision-making that happen at a particular institution. We could talk a bit more about that.
My primary expertise is in constitutional law, in equality law and theory. Of course, there's always great concern about whether the idea of some kind of external structuring of the number of women on boards raises equality problems, as opposed to being a response to equality issues. I think it's clear from our equality law that there is much support constitutionally for a notion of equality that is substantive and understands different kinds of treatments in the name of equality, and supports affirmative action measures as features of equality.
Maybe I'll just end there and take questions. I would argue that it's very clear that it's sustainable to have some kind of government regulation of board membership under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and some people would go further and argue that there may be an affirmative obligation on the government to take positive measures, in light of its international human rights obligations for full participation of women in public life, to ensure that we see higher representation of women, and other under-represented groups, other equity groups, in these kinds of institutions, on these sorts of boards.
Good morning, committee members. I am pleased to contribute to your study.
First, I would like to introduce myself to put my presentation in context.
I have been the General Director of Spira for nine years now. I have an MBA in international management and international development from Université Laval. I am the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Méduse Co-op, the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Pôle des entreprises d'économie sociale de la région de la Capitale-Nationale and Co-Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Table de concertation de l'industrie du cinéma et de la télévision de la Capitale-Nationale.
The day before yesterday and today, you have heard from a number of leading organizations and specialists about the impressive situation and about their reality. Spira is a medium-sized organization with a budget of $600,000. I'm pleased to present the reality of an organization like ours. These organizations aren't to be ignored. They are the majority and essential in the portrait of Canadian cultural organizations.
For its part, Spira is a cooperative devoted to independent cinema resulting from the 2015 merger of Vidéo Femmes and Spirafilm, two organizations that have existed for nearly 40 years. Its main mandate is to support the production and distribution of films, be they short films or feature films. The cooperative has about 150 members. Each year, it's involved in more than 60 films and reaches an audience of 400,000 people. Funded by arts councils, the cooperative is not-for-profit. Its revenues are about 75% of grants.
As a result of the merger, in order to maintain the mission of Vidéo Femmes, Spira was keen to put gender equity at the centre of its values. How does this translate concretely?
At Spira, 50% of the projects supported are carried out by women, and a concern for parity is present when our committees and collective projects are put together.
Spira's board of directors includes six artist members and three external members. Of these nine positions, at least four must be held by women, and this is mandatory.
Ten employees—five men and five women—make up the cooperative's team. Women have held the artistic director and general manager positions since 2009 and 2008, respectively.
Spira's board of directors has been gender-equal since 2012-13, and the quota has been in place since 2015-16.
It goes without saying that gender parity is a constant concern within the cooperative.
Spirafilm, of which I was the manager, was already concerned about gender parity. Our merger with Vidéo Femmes forced us to more formally implement procedures that would allow us to maintain gender equity.
Three years after the implementation of these measures, I realize that this reflection was necessary, because it is clear that it is unfortunately not yet natural to think about parity. Otherwise, we would not be here today. It is a reflex that is learned and develops.
The first measure adopted was the quota of women on Spira's board of directors. In fact, at least four of the nine positions must be held by a woman. However, conversely, the board of directors could not be made up only of women: at least three men must sit on it.
It goes without saying that we initially found it difficult to respect the minimum of four women. We had fears: what if we didn't find competent women? The former president of Vidéo Women had warned us that it would take effort.
Three years after the introduction of this quota, the mechanism has become natural and well-anchored in the actions of the board of directors. I will speak about it a little later, but education remains a major point for maintaining the importance of parity.
Efforts to reach parity are well marked, and we have tools and mechanisms in place.
The first method is the active search for candidates. We participate in recruitment activities such as “Tea time with the board”, an activity organized by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Québec. We also called on the people in our network and told them about the profiles of the candidates we were looking for, the idea being not to wait until the AGM of members to have people interested in serving on the board.
We decided to put in place a skills matrix in an Excel table, which is the one proposed by the YWCA and includes not only objectives to be achieved in terms of parity, but also other criteria such as youth, skills and cultural diversity. In the coming weeks, a call for applications will be launched, and we will ensure that we have a large pool of candidates at the AGM.
One of the benefits of this skills matrix is to publicize needs and make a tool to attract women and show them that they have an opportunity to join a board of directors. This opens a door for them and tells them that they can join our board and that we need them.
Something else we have put in place is mentorship. Spira participates in the YWCA's mentorship program for young female administrators. Through the program, a young woman can train for a year by sitting on the board of directors. The idea could easily be adopted by a number of other boards, in organizations large or small.
We communicate the value of parity to members of the board and to staff. We do so in order for it to be easier to achieve and so that everyone can become its champion. At board meetings, and at the annual general meeting, we inform our members of all the efforts Spira makes to achieve parity. We also mention it occasionally on social media. Making our members and our public aware is a way for us to contribute to society, so that it can become more egalitarian.
We also know that achieving parity depends largely on the people in place. So it is critical for us that organizations include parity in their procedures, so that it will last.
I would like to draw your attention to another major issue linked to parity on boards, the issue of the presidency.
Having women on boards of directors is one thing, but it is another to have them take decision-making leadership positions.
At Spira, we recently realized that we had never had a female president. So, next June, we are going to establish parity with a co-presidency. This will allow us to put into practice a joint execution of powers and development of skills. Another method would be to establish alternating presidential mandates, so that the position would be occupied by a woman on a regular basis.
We believe that parity will be easier to achieve if we establish measures such as flexible schedules, the ability to bring children to meetings, and participating in meetings remotely, both for the board of directors and for the staff.
Still with a view to promoting parity, Spira has adopted gender-inclusive writing and lexical feminization.
I will now say a few words on the artistic leadership positions within cultural organizations.
We cannot ignore the difficult question of the low salaries in small organizations and the shortage of labour. It is a problem that limits our choice of candidates. We prefer the most competent candidates. However, where one of the two key management positions is already occupied by a man, we would consider applications from women with particular attention. I have been working in the arts for nine years now and I have noticed that, in small organizations, it is often women who occupy positions of artistic leadership, even of overall leadership, whereas in large organizations, the opposite is true. The workload is the same, but the salaries are lower.
In conclusion, I have the following recommendations for you.
Work with national organizations like the Independent Media Arts Alliance, so that they become champions and intermediaries.
Establish a program to train managers and provide mentorship for women, even in small and medium-sized organizations.
Increase funding to organizations so that they can provide suitable working conditions that may attract competent women to artistic leadership positions.
Encourage quotas. As an earlier speaker mentioned, in Norway and France, quotas have been imposed in public organizations, with positive results. In this country, SODEC, the NFB and Telefilm Canada have implemented measures of that kind, and the results seem very positive up to now.
Finally, we recommend that studies be conducted to determine the status of the situation and that the results be published.
Thank you very much. I hope that my comments will provide you with food for thought.
I would like to begin by clearly stating that I know absolutely nothing in regard to running an artistic or cultural organization. In preparing for this meeting I realized I am considered the equivalent of a director on a board for such an organization, but that does not imply knowledge. Rather, I am a professor of economics.
My research focuses on labour markets and policy, including gender wage gaps and women's participation in the labour market. I also teach economics and gender at Laurier. With that background in mind I wanted to speak more generally about women's representation in leadership positions.
I'm not aware of any formal Canadian statistics regarding the representation of women on boards of artistic and cultural organizations. We know women's representation on TSX-listed boards is low. According to recent reports, women hold roughly 15% of board seats in these companies. The impression I have is that artistic and cultural organizations have better representation of women on boards, but may not have a fair representation of women in top leadership positions.
Gaining better information about artistic and cultural organizations will require standardized reporting. For example, the Canada Revenue Agency could require organizations with charitable status to report the gender of members of the board of directors as public information, adding to the information already reported. With this information, if we see women under-represented, what should we do about it?
Gender quotas are often the first thing that comes to mind, and economists have now had a chance to study a few examples. An excellent example is a paper published in the American Economic Review titled “Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man”. I have to say I love the title of this paper.
The author studied elections in Swedish municipalities where the council is appointed by proportional representation implemented through party lists. Starting in 1993 the Social Democratic Party lists were subject to zipper quotas whereby party lists had to alternate male and female names throughout their list of nominees. The party seats are then filled according to this list, ensuring representation of women among the seats that are won.
This zipper quota clearly resulted in a higher share of women elected. More importantly, it resulted in an increase in the level of competence among the elected officials, which mainly reflects an improvement in the selection of male candidates. Put simply, mediocre men appeared to be removed from the party lists, especially in leadership positions, and replaced by highly competent women.
One reason I like this paper is it speaks to the main point of opposition to gender quotas. That is the concern that it threatens the selection for leadership positions based on merit. This paper reminds us that many other factors drive appointments, which may not be optimal.
Norway's gender quotas for corporate board membership introduced in 2006 have received more attention. We see evidence that changing the composition of boards will affect corporate strategy. For example, Norway's affected corporations appear to avoid short-term workforce reductions, which affects short-term profits; that may be important as part of a long-term strategy. The same study, however, found that other aspects of corporate decisions affecting revenues and non-labour costs were unaffected.
We also see evidence from Norway, however, that gender quotas for boards may not have much effect beyond board composition. The quotas do not appear to lift the position of women not appointed to boards or alter the decisions of young women who are planning their careers in business.
When we look at the broader literature, the evidence suggests that gender quotas that change the composition of boards can affect the strategy of an organization. Those effects may be small, but I have not seen convincing evidence to clearly suggest it is negative. Gender quotas may raise competence levels in an organization. However, we must remember that policies such as gender quotas are only one small piece of that policy puzzle.
I thank you for your attention, and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Good morning, everyone.
My name is Angèle Bouffard. I have just come directly from Quebec City. I am from the YWCA there.
Let me take a few moments to introduce our organization, the YWCA. In Quebec City, we have been working to train women for boards of directors for years. This role was designed in, and is unique to, Quebec City, because it does not exist in any of the other YWCA facilities in Canada. Our mission is to empower women as they search for the best in themselves. This means that we provide accommodation services to women in difficulty at the same time as we work with female leaders in major positions.
We have built an entire strategy, which, in English, might be described as “training women as leaders and decision-makers.” At the very start, we were able to count on funding from the Government of Quebec, then Status of Women Canada supported us with two particular components of the program. To date, we have trained more than 1,000 women to sit on boards of directors. For Quebec City, that is huge.
It means that women are ready to train themselves. They come and spend 15 hours with us in order to equip themselves with tools that will make them more skilled in their roles on boards of directors.
We have adapted the training for 17-to-25-year-olds. We are working with women from CEGEPs and from the Université Laval. To date, we have trained more than a hundred, a number of whom are foreign students who want to become involved in boards of directors of all kinds. They see it as a way to become involved in a Canadian organization, to gain experience in the community, and to give back to that community.
We have also established a mentorship program. We have thirty or so pairs at the moment. Mrs. Benoit is one of the mentors. The unique feature of our program is that each mentor agrees to an observer being present at her board for a year, and to help her acquire tools so that she can play her role better. At the end of the time, there has been real development and the women feel even more prepared.
A year and a half ago, we conducted a study with about 800 of our former participants to find out their situations, what they were doing, what boards they were sitting on, and what obstacles they were still faced with, if such was the case. We found that they were very happy that they had taken the training, but there were still some who were hesitant to take the plunge into an adventure on a board of directors, even though they had received those 15 hours of training. However, these were women who already were accountants, lawyers, professionals or public officials. They were women with at least a bachelor's degree, sometimes even a master's degree. The students from the Université Laval are often graduate students in finance, management or law. But they want more tools. They lack confidence. They also suffer from imposter syndrome. We did not ask a lot of questions about it, but that last observation emerged from the responses the women gave us. After the training, they wanted a real experience, which is why we established the mentorship program so that we can guide them.
We also have co-development groups, meaning mutual, professional support among female administrators; they give each other great tips.
Those are our strategies to help women to train themselves and to become even more skilled. Believe me, that is what they are constantly asking for, because they are suffering from imposter syndrome and they always think that they are lacking a little something.
The day before yesterday, we offered an advanced course on financial statements for the management of not-for-profit organizations, following on from three courses in management and in reading financial statements. The women keep asking for them, because their goal is to be super-competent before they take a seat on a board of directors.
We have realized that the problem lies right inside the organizations. Why were 1,000 women not all successful in finding a place? They were ready, they had extraordinary skills, but they were not being noticed. That is when we established a mentorship program for the organizations. The crux of the issue is that we have what we call systemic obstacles. You will see that in cultural organizations.
We decided to provide you with some statistics.
We have parity ratio when 40 to 60% of board members are women. For others, there is only parity if there is an equal number of men and women on the board. We are talking about boards, but the same goes for all decision-making spaces.
In Quebec, 18% of board members are women. These statistics are slightly outdated, but still valid. For three quarters of companies, only 11 to 25% of their board members are women.
One might think it's different in the cultural industry, but here are more statistics on the matter. You will see that we have done our research.
Half of companies have less than 20% women board members. Moreover, did you know that 28% of companies have no female board members? According to a study by Mrs. Brière and Jean Bédard, at this pace, if we were to take concrete measures like the ones used to support organizations, we would have to wait until around 2034 to reach parity.
In reality, according to calculations, if nothing is done, if we take no action, because of fluctuations, departures and arrivals, progress and setbacks, we won't reach parity 2200. That's a few generations away. I am training students for nothing at Université Laval—obviously, I'm kidding.
As you will see in your documents, there are many benefits to having women on boards. The idea is really to diversify expertise, to take certain questions into account and to cover all basis. I can assure you that the women we send on boards are more competent than any other board members I've seen and I would hire any one of the women that I train to sit on the boards that I sit on.
I'd like to go back to statistics for a moment. We are currently gathering statistics on the make up of all boards in the arts and culture sector across all categories in Quebec City. For today's meeting, we took the time to analyse the data collected up until now, and related to 113 organizations.
Today, in Quebec City, only 30% of these 113 organizations in the arts and culture sector have more than 30% of women board members. This sector is made up mainly of women. Yet, these numbers confirm that they do not sit on boards. They hold junior positions and are unable to climb the corporate ladder.
In addition, 70% of these organizations have less than 50% women board members. We have divided those numbers into categories: 0 to 20%, 20 to 30%, and so on. We gave you those numbers, by date and year. We will track those numbers over many years, since we will be asking for them in our support process. Nine percent of organizations in the cultural sector have no women board members.
Concerning the parity ratio, which starts at 40% of women, only 52% of organizations meet this threshold. However, when it comes to a true parity, only 30% of organizations have 50% women board members.
This data concerns the art and culture sector in Quebec City. It is not necessarily the same thing across the country, but at least, we have these numbers.
We make sure to support organizations, because we want parity to be an integral part of their DNA at every level. We have many steps that we would like to propose to increase the number of women board members. There are many models; we have created them. I gave you documentation on the subject. These documents are also available on line. We have created the Guide pour une gouvernance paritaire — Pour des C.A. égalitaires, which offers an eight step game plan. You will find a more detailed version of this plan in your slides and in the document that we gave you.
A lot of support is needed, in two phases, but I would suggest that you follow closely the steps that we have established.
First, senior executives must be there.
Organizations also have to develop official policies. That is the basis for everything. Without a policy that specifies in writing the objectives and criteria, there will be too much fluctuation and too many set backs, and only individuals will support the process, instead of the entire organization.
Then, you have to create governance committees whose role is to recruit.
Moreover, you have to give companies the tools and competency matrixes that they need to diversify the make up of their board, like the kind of matrix use by Mrs. Benoit and many organizations.
You also have to help organizations in using different recruiting methods. We have set up an activity called “A board at tea time”. In March of last year, 40 organizations were recruiting about a hundred candidates. So, it is really a question of shadowing.
Furthermore, you have to diversify the way you do things.
Then, you have to support the new people.
Finally, what we want is for organizations to have the tools to peak women's interest and attract them. That said, it is up to organizations to change the way they do things, not to women to acquire more skills.
I can tell you a lot about that.
I have also been chair of the status of women committee at the University of Victoria. I just came back, actually, from a meeting of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which at a national level is very much concerned with the diversification and the inclusivity—or lack of inclusivity—of our university environments, with respect to staff but also with respect to faculty particularly.
The issues are challenging. There's much formulation and discussion of equity and what equity requires, but in terms of changing the numbers, there's been slow progress. To the extent that we have seen some progress on the equity front—I'm talking primarily about faculty and faculty moving into positions of leadership within the university—it's primarily been progress that has helped more white women to get positions.
Women are still under-represented, but women who are racialized are very much under-represented. The progress has been progress that has been enjoyed by non-racialized women to some extent. The issue therefore is a complex one, across the different dimensions by which exclusion happens in the university environment. Gender is important. Racialization is important. We certainly need a key focus on retention of our indigenous scholars and movement of indigenous faculty into leadership positions.
I don't want to say that gender doesn't matter. It's hugely important and I've invested many years into working towards the advancement of gender equality in the university environment. However, gender includes women who are indigenous, women who are racialized, women with disabilities....
We have universities mirroring the power structures, not surprisingly, in broader Canadian society. We have yet to reach a position where we're taking advantage of the full wealth of expertise, of experience, and of talent across the range of wonderful diversity that we have in Canadian society. Certainly we see, as we move higher up in the ranks of the university, from assistant professor to associate professor to full professor to dean, and from associate vice-president to vice-president and so on, that a disproportionate number of women and other under-represented groups increasingly drop out of the picture.