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Noah Zivitz

Managing Editor, BNN Bloomberg

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Pressure is mounting to improve female representation in boardrooms as the Shareholder Association for Research & Education targets four companies with formal proposals.

SHARE and one of its clients took aim at Tim Hortons’ parent company, Restaurant Brands International, last year – resulting in one woman being added to its board. This year it has teamed up again with OceanRock Investments to call on RBI to establish a full plan to improve diversity throughout the company.

SHARE is also teaming up this year with clients to push for female boardroom representation at Canfor, Constellation Brands and Morguard Corporation. The Vancouver-based company provides proxy analysis and policy advocacy on behalf of Canadian clients including pension funds, mutual funds and asset managers.

“The slow progress on gender equality is raising red flags for our clients,” said Delaney Greig, SHARE’s engagement analyst, in a statement. “Gender diversity is a critical attribute of a well-functioning board and a measure of sound corporate governance.”

According to data released last summer by the Canadian Securities Administrators, women occupied just 12 per cent of board seats at the 677 issuers surveyed and 55 per cent of companies have at least one woman in the boardroom.

“I think investors have to stand up,” said Colin Stewart, CEO and portfolio manager at JC Clark Limited, in an interview with BNN. “Particularly those larger investors who have clout…that really can sway companies and boards because they own so many shares or because that company would be trying to attract them as a potential investor.”