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Discussions on diversity in corporate boardrooms are gaining momentum, moving beyond a focus on women only. The Ontario Securities Commission is considering broadening disclosure regulations to encompass other protected groups under the Canadian Human Rights Code and the LGBTQ+ community.

Currently, little is understood about LGBTQ+ representation on Canadian corporate boards. To tackle this gap, a pioneering study by the Institute for Gender and the Economy, supported by the LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors Canada Association, quantified LGBTQ+ representation among board members of Canadian companies. Focusing on TSX-listed firms already subject to disclosure rules for women on boards (1,110 companies for the years 2015-2022), we gathered names and demographic information on 9,396 individual board members. We scrutinized the demographics of each board member using websites, newspapers, LinkedIn, board bios and QueerBio. We found only 9 board members who publicly identified as members of the LGBTQ community (7 in 2022, which was 0.15% of all board members that year). This figure is notably low, given StatCan’s estimation of 4.4% of Canadians identifying as LGBTQ+ (with IPSOS estimating 9%). The actual count might be higher, considering some individuals may opt not to disclose their identity publicly.

These findings raise pertinent questions for further investigation. What factors deter LGBTQ+ individuals from publicly disclosing their identities? What cultural and structural barriers hinder LGBTQ+ access to board positions? How can organizations improve recruitment, retention and promotion processes to enhance LGBTQ+ representation across all levels, including boards?

This project was led by Professor Sarah Kaplan and supported by the LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors Canada Association