A federal advisory group says Canadian companies should aim to have 30 per cent of their boards made up of women by the end of the decade.
The report, titled Good for Business: A Plan to Promote More Women on Canadian Boards, believes the 30 per cent figure can be achieved by 2019 en route to a longer-term goal of full gender balance.
The report, by the ad hoc federal Advisory Council for women on boards, also recommends that publicly traded companies put in place "comply and explain" policies that would set internal goals on how to achieve gender balance as well as provide annual updates on their progress.
According to statistics in the report, women held 15.9 per cent of seats on the boards of the country's 500 largest public and private companies as of 2012. It noted that in the public sector, women represent 31 per cent of positions appointed by the governor in council, including those to Crown corporations and government agencies.
The representation of women on boards has been a hot-topic for the past few years. In January, the Ontario Securities Commission proposed that all publicly listed businesses be required to disclose targets for the number of women in high-ranking positions as directors and executive officers on their boards, reveal how they search and select candidates and how they decide who to hire.
However, the OSC shied away from suggesting hard quotes, which some observers said was the only way to force change. Others argued that a quota system would force the promotion of unqualified candidates solely to meet gender requirements.