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Toronto city council calls for gender parity at city corporations, boards

Proposal aims to achieve equal representation on public boards and corporations by 2019

Councillor Michelle Holland is proposing a gender parity for all public boards and corporations.

Torstar News Service file

Councillor Michelle Holland is proposing a gender parity for all public boards and corporations.

A proposal being tabled at council this week seeks to bring gender parity to all city-owned corporations and boards.

The motion fronted by Coun. Michelle Holland wants new women appointments to start as early as this fall. She’s aiming for equal representation by 2019.

Holland’s motion notes a sizable gender gap in the upper echelons of both public and private corporations in Canada. Women account for only 12 per cent of public companies’ boards of directors, while over 40 per cent have no female representation at all.

Her proposal follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s appointment of a gender equal cabinet, as well as the province’s announcement that 40 per cent of public board positions will be occupied by women by 2019.

Advocates in Toronto believe gender parity will lead to more effective management of public assets and infrastructure.

For example, a female director on the TTC board is more likely to understand and address issues of sexual assault on transit than a male director, said Claire McWatt, a Toronto youth community organizer.

“We would see improvements that are more than just the request a stop program,” she said.

A gender parity program is long overdue in Toronto, said McWatt, adding the policy will also inspire a younger generation of women leaders.

“Our city’s motto is ‘diversity is our strength.’ It’s time to act on it,” she said.

Anne Day who founded Company of Women to assist female business creators, said the policy would “make our society richer” by giving a broader perspective on how decisions are made.

“This is about a woman’s voice being heard and respected, which hasn’t always been the case.” 

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