The number of female CEOs jumped from six in 2020 to nine in 2023, and the number of female non-employee chairs grew to 22 from 13 over the same period.

March 20, 2023

Women Now Hold One-Third of Canadian Corporate Board Seats, ISS Corporate Solutions Analysis Finds

ROCKVILLE, Md. (March 20, 2023) – ISS Corporate Solutions, Inc. (ICS), a leading provider of compensation, governance, cyber risk monitoring, and sustainability SaaS and advisory services to help companies improve shareholder value and reduce risk, today released the results of an analysis of companies in the S&P/TSX Composite index finding that for the first time and as of Jan. 1, 2023, women hold one-third of all board directorships.

The ICS analysis, examining trends in both gender and racial and ethnic diversity among board directorships spanning January 1, 2020, through January 1, 2023*, finds that women now hold 33.7 percent of all directorships compared with 27.9 percent at the start of the study period. By comparison geographically, slightly less, or 32.3 percent of all U.S. S&P500 directorships, are now held by women, according to ICS data. Female representation in leadership positions saw proportionally significant increases over the same study period, though their numbers remained low relative to male peers. The number of female CEOs jumped from six in 2020 to nine in 2023, and the number of female non-employee chairs grew to 22 from 13 over the same period. Examined by sector, the study finds that companies in the Utilities sector have the highest proportion of directorships held by women at 39.1 percent, while those in Health Care have the lowest proportion at 24 percent.

Moreover, the data show racial and ethnic minorities now hold 14.1 percent of directorships, representing a material increase from 8.3 percent in 2020. By comparison, ICS data show that 23.6 percent of U.S. S&P500 directorships are now held by directors who are non-Caucasian. Black and Indigenous directors saw the most significant jumps in board representation over the study period, with a more than three-fold increase for both groups. Black directors, who held only 0.9 percent of directorships as of January 1, 2020, comprised 3.13 percent of directorships in 2023; Indigenous directors grew from holding only 0.36 percent of directorships in 2020 to 1.22 percent in 2023. As of 2023, Hispanic/Latin American directors saw the most representation on boards among racial and ethnic minorities, with 3.3 percent of directorships held by members of those groups. By sector, companies in the Consumer Discretionary space had the highest proportion of minority held directorships at 25.5 percent, while those in Health Care had the lowest proportion at 3.3 percent.

“Canadian companies have a slight edge over their U.S. peers when it comes to board gender diversity, but far further to go as it applies to the prevalence of underrepresented minority groups,” said Marija Kramer, Head of ISS Corporate Solutions. “But directionally, our analysis shows racial and ethnic minorities making significant inroads in Canadian boardrooms and that trend may well accelerate as regulation and guidance spur companies to disclose more on individual director characteristics.” 

*The analysis of gender diversity figures looked at a total of 2,283 directorships as of Jan. 1, 2023, while the analysis of racial and ethnic diversity looked at a total of 575 directorships. The smaller sample sized used to assess racial and ethnic diversity can be attributed to less robust disclosure compared with that for gender and for which the regulatory disclosure regime is more mature. Information relating to race and ethnicity is sourced from company filings, company websites, disclosures by other companies on whose board the director sits, LinkedIn profiles where affirmative attestation of race and ethnicity is provided, and other public sources providing for the same.


About ISS Corporate Solutions
Companies turn to ISS Corporate Solutions, Inc. (“ICS”) for expertise in designing and managing corporate governance, executive compensation, and sustainability programs that align with company goals, reduce risk, and manage the needs of a diverse shareholder base by delivering best-in-class data, tools, and advisory services. Our global client base extends to companies located across North America, Europe, and Asia. ICS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (“ISS”) and is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. ISS’ Global Research Department, which is separate from ICS, will not give preferential treatment to, and is under no obligation to support, any proxy proposal of a company (whether or not that company has purchased products or services from ICS).  Similarly, ISS’ responsible investment research and analytics teams will not provide preferential treatment to, and is under no obligation to provide a favorable rating, assessment and/or any other favorable result to any corporate issuer (whether or not that corporate issuer has purchased products or services from ICS).  No statement from an employee of ICS should be construed as a guarantee that ISS will (a) recommend that is clients vote in favor of any particular proxy proposal nor (b) provide a favorable rating or other assessment of any corporate issuer.  For more information, please visit  

Media Contact:

Audrey Dedrick
Analyst – Communications

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