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C-suite diversity

Canadian investors pushing for more women at the top

Executives at some of the largest Canadian pension funds and money managers, with a combined C$2.1 trillion ($1.6 trillion), are backing an effort to have more women working in the board rooms and C-suites of Canadian companies.

Sixteen institutional investors — ranging from the C$326.5 billion Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to RBC Global Asset Management — issued a joint statement Sept. 7 to support the 30% Club of Canada's call that women comprise a combined 30% of boards of directors and executive management positions at listed S&P/TSX composite index companies by 2022.

The 30% goal, while not a quota, is a point at which minority board members would have an actual impact on board decisions.

"We recognize that a diverse workforce, representative of the contributors and beneficiaries of the pension plans whose assets we manage, and of our global business partners, strengthens our effectiveness as a leading global institutional investor," said Andre Bourbonnais, president and CEO of PSP Investments, in a statement on its website. PSP manages the assets of the C$135.6 billion Public Service Pension Investment Board, which is a signatory to the statement.

Only 18% of the total director seats of 215 Canadian companies with more than $1 billion in market capitalization are filled by women, according to information on the 30% Club Canada's website. The Canada branch is one of nine chapters of the 30% Club worldwide.

Other signatories include the C$286.5 billion Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and the C$180.5 billion Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.— Rick Baert