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Greater Vancouver Board of Trade pledges to get to gender parity

They're also aiming to have 30 per cent of their board come from underrepresented groups
The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is joining the 50 – 30 Challenge to add broader representation in leadership roles.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) has joined the federal government's 50 – 30 Challenge.

The challenge is for companies and organizations to set two goals to increase inclusion in leadership positions (boards and senior management): gender parity (50 per cent of leadership positions held by women) and significant representation (30 per cent) by under-represented groups (the government's definition of under-represented is fairly broad, including First Nations, racialized people, members of the LGBTQ+ community and people living with visible and invisible disabilities).

The GVBOT has accepted that challenge.

“This commitment to the 50-30 challenge serves to further highlight that the current discussion on diversity and inclusion is incredibly helpful at raising awareness, but needs to be reinforced by concrete action," states Melissa Polak, chair of the GVBOT's Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, which launched last year.

Currently, the GVBOT's board is just shy of both aspirations.

"The gender breakdown of our board currently is 15 women (44 per cent) and 19 men (56 per cent) out of 34 total directors, that includes our President and CEO Bridgitte Anderson," says GVBOT communications manager Daniel Bettridge.

As for underrepresented groups, they're a little further off, with eight members of the board, or 23.5 per cent, fitting the description.

"We are working towards addressing that," says Bettridge. "We are also importantly, working towards refining the way we gather information from our board members to more fully capture the data."

The federal government launched the initiative in December, with the support of a variety of organizations including Canada's LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, the Rick Hansen Foundation and Women Building Futures.

"The leadership of corporate Canada and our major organizations should look like Canada—not simply because it's fair but also because it makes good sense. Time and time again, research has shown that businesses and organizations that embrace diversity on their boards and management teams outperform their peers," states the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry in a press release. "Intuitively, a broader range of perspectives and talents results in better performance."

The challenge is open to any organization willing to join.