Oct 1, 2019

Event sparks conversation

It was a candid conversation inside a downtown Edmonton office tower on International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2019. AIMCo’s CEO Kevin Uebelein was moderating a panel on the challenges of advancing gender diversity on boards and in leadership roles in the business world.

“It was a really frank discussion,” said Uebelein. “Most of the people in the room knew the statistics, but we don’t always get the chance as a local business community to dig into what it will take to move the needle.”

As most recently reported in AIMCo’s Responsible Investment Report, the statistics Uebelein refers to show there is work to be done, specifically among Canadian TSX issuers.

  • Almost 40% have no women on their boards

  • 35% state they have a written diversity policy

  • 14% of directors are female

The Women’s Day event attracted more than 150 people, and it followed a roundtable on the same topic involving 24 local C-suite executives. The conversation moved quickly from the impacts of cultural norms and unconscious bias to what actions can be taken. 

Women on boards is a key environmental, social and governance (ESG) focus for AIMCo. As a shareholder, AIMCo is able to exercise its influence in a number of ways including diversity-related shareholder proposals and votes for director nominees to boards.

AIMCo’s expectation for female representation on boards of issuers in developed country markets will progressively escalate from the current requirement of 20% to 25% in 2020 and reach 30% by 2022.

Uebelein is a member of the 30% Club, a group of board chairs and CEOs. The goal of the Canadian chapter is to achieve at least 30% women on boards in executive management for S&P/TSX Composite Index Companies by 2022.

“From my perspective, advancing gender diversity on boards is not merely the right thing to do, it is also better for business. There is mounting evidence that companies with diverse boards perform better in the long-term and investing in them will ultimately deliver better value to our clients,” said Uebelein.