Boards of Directors | Efforts are recommended to improve Indigenous representation

(Toronto) Much more needs to be done to improve Aboriginal representation on corporate boards and in the business world, according to a group of Aboriginal women in business.

“There are so many very talented and capable Indigenous people in this country who could fill these seats on the boards, but we have to make sure that we look outside of the criteria that we have always considered,” argued the President and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), Tabatha Bull.

Company boards should broaden their criteria when looking for new members, Bull, because local people are often excluded because they don’t have experience in high-level management, for example.

One of the usual criteria for positions on boards of directors is experience in general management positions, said Bull.

“We know that there is a barrier to the presence of indigenous people in the hierarchy of senior management,” noted Bull.

By sticking to such criteria, boards risk missing out on a whole group of people, she added.

“If we continue to stick to resumes, we will be limited in how we can actually get talented and incredibly smart Indigenous women and people on boards. »

Mme Bull was speaking at a virtual roundtable hosted by the Empire Club of Canada, alongside Jenn Harper, Founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics and Tammy Brown, National Head of Industrial Markets at KPMG in Canada .

Mme Brown said boards should think about the results they expect from new appointments rather than the traditional criteria they rely on, and consider the abilities of potential candidates beyond their resumes.

“We would look to recruiters who have the ability to bring together a diverse group and not just traditional recruiters,” she said.

Moderator Caitlin Tolley, legal counsel in the Indigenous Justice Division of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, pointed out that many of the challenges the women on the panel faced early in their careers still exist today.

“Indigenous women still have to work harder to be seen,” she said.

Mme Harper said she feels lucky to have received funding for her start-up company, whose products are now sold in 52 Sephora stores across Canada and more than 600 JCPenney stores in the United States.

According to her, a tiny part of the venture capital goes to Aboriginal women.

Mme Harper encouraged Canadians to seek out businesses that match their values ​​and support them with their purchases.

According to Mme Bull, if changes are needed to improve the representation of Indigenous peoples on company boards, they should also have access to training on equity and Indigenous issues, so that the responsibility for raising these issues does not is not solely the responsibility of the natives.

“The entire board needs to reflect on its mission and responsibility for how it advances Indigenous reconciliation within the company, and everyone around the board table needs to ask questions about how policies or programs impact indigenous people,” she said.

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