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Susan Goldberg is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, blogger and essayist. She is coeditor of the anthology And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents & Our Unexpected Families.

Serving the public good

Ed Waitzer is on a mission to expand the role of corporate boards well beyond narrow definitions of fiduciary duty

Ed Waitzer is squeezing this interview into a schedule that doesn’t appear to have any breathing room.

Today, for example, he’s already been to the gym (a busted knee in December and a recent hip replacement mean he can no longer run) and has blasted through the daily newspapers in the steam room. As a senior partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto and head of its corporate governance group, he’s dealt with some governance issues in one client’s family business and some employment issues for another client, a public company. He’s got a meeting in an hour with the chair of the Ontario Securities Commission – which he chaired from 1993 to 1996 – to discuss some proposals around climate-risk disclosure. There’s a board meeting later in the afternoon, and class in the evening: Waitzer teaches corporate law, in a joint appointment between Osgoode Hall Law School and York University’s Schulich School of Business, where he directs the Hennick Centre for Business and Law. (He also lectures regularly at various Chilean university law and business schools; he’s on the advisory board of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile’s corporate governance centre.) And then there’s the board presentation he’s putting together for Monday, the slew of articles he’s writing, a panel for accountants on auditor liability for negligence in court, the fellowships at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation and the C.D. Howe Institute, the committees, the charitable boards.

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Pride guide

What corporate Canada is doing to welcome its LGBTQ workers

When Marianne Smith interviewed with Blake, Cassels & Graydon for an articling position in 2003, it never occurred to her to ask about the storied law firm’s stance on diversity. Coming out as a lesbian was even lower on her list of priorities.

Today, the corporate lawyer and partner in the firm’s Toronto offices has a Pride flag on her desk. She’s involved in Blakes’ employee resource group on behalf of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) staff members. When she interviews law students interested in joining the firm, “almost everyone I speak with asks about diversity, regardless of their personal circumstances. And when we recruit young [LGBTQ] lawyers, they are, by and large, out in the recruiting process.”

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Boards are not enough

By Susan Goldberg
Efforts to expand female corporate diversity need to extend into senior management and beyond.

It’s no longer news – or, at least, it shouldn’t be news – that gender-diverse boards make good business sense. Time and time again, studies have shown that boards with greater gender balance have higher levels of organizational effectiveness and perform better financially. They’re also more diverse in terms of thought and perspective, show more evidence of unity and collegiality, and are associated with better corporate social performance.

As an organization’s most important and visible decision-making body, boards are an obvious target for scrutiny when it comes to assessing gender diversity. For the record, the numbers indicate that parity is a long way off. According to Catalyst’s 2014 Census, women occupied 19.2 per cent of board seats at U.S. stock index companies and 20.8 per cent of seats at Canadian firms.

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