Canadian Lawyer InHouse

December/January 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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4 NEWS ROUNDUP OSLER REPORT NEWS BRIEFS Corporate boards still lack diversity No progress for women or minorities at executive board level, diversity disclosure report finds Canadian businesses have reported a slow, steady increase in the number of women on boards, but there has been a disappointing lack of progress for women and visible minority groups at the executive officer level. The sixth annual Diversity Disclosure Practices report by Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP has been enhanced to reflect new disclosure requirements under the Canada Business Corporations Act, which became effective in January. The amendments broadened the range of corporations required to provide disclosure regarding women in leadership positions and added new require- ments for disclosure regarding visible minor- ities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities. "As a result of amendments to the CBCA effective at the start of this year, for the first time, we had a data set that covers diversity characteristics beyond gender," says John Valley, a corporate governance partner at Osler and a co-author of the report. "Unfortunately, based on the companies that provided disclosure, we saw some very low numbers across all the designated groups other than women, both in terms of the representation of those groups in the boardroom and in executive officer positions. We also saw that very few disclosing companies had established targets for the representation of members of these designated groups as directors or executive officers." Based on disclosure provided by 217 CBCA corporations, only 5.5 per cent of directors are visible minorities. Among the 2,023 board positions of the 270 CBCA companies that provided full or partial disclosure of their practices before July 31, only seven positions were held by Aboriginal peoples, while persons with disabilities held just six positions. Of 230 CBCA companies providing disclosure, almost none disclosed having targets for designated groups, other than women. Osler's report found that women hold 21.5 per cent of all board seats among TSX-listed companies that disclosed the number of women directors on boards — an increase of almost three per cent compared to 2019. Almost half of the 586 companies that had disclosed data by July 31 indicated that they have more than one woman on their board — an increase of nine per cent compared to last year. Despite this slow, steady progress for women, the rate at which they are being appointed to fill newly created or vacated board seats declined slightly to 35 per cent, compared to 36.4 per cent in 2019. "I think this is due, in part, to the relatively small number of positions available in most corporations and the relatively infrequent turnover," says Valley. "For the first time, we had a data set that covers diversity characteristics beyond gender." John Valley, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP ACC endorses new general counsel oath The Association of Corporate Counsel has endorsed a new oath for general counsel with the unanimous approval of its board of directors. The "General Counsel Oath" may apply to those holding the roles of general counsel, chief legal officer or equivalent positions around the world. The oath, which was inspired by the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, first addresses professional responsibility and ethics, stating that in-house leaders should commit to the highest professional and ethical values. Second, the oath calls for leadership, diversity and inclusion. Bridgepoint launches expropriation financing service An expropriation and business loss consulting and financing program has been launched by BridgePoint Financial to help recoup losses and restore financial stability to businesses impacted by the delayed Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit project in Toronto. The 19-kilometre corridor is slated to run along Eglinton Avenue between Mount Dennis (Weston Road) and Kennedy station. An estimated 3,000 small businesses have been negatively affected by the project. Dubbed CrosstownHelp, BridgePoint's new service offers access to legal representation, expert advice and financing. TD Bank's VP litigation joins board of FP Canada FP Canada has announced the appointment of Diana Iannetta, a Toronto-based lawyer, to its board of directors for 2020 to 2021. Iannetta,

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