Courtesy Flickr/erix! A businesswoman is shown walking to work on Oct. 31, 2013 in this file photo.

Women in Saskatchewan are carving out a space at the executive tables of the province’s most influential companies.

According to the 2013 Catalyst Census, which tracks gender diversity on director boards for the Financial Post’s list of 500 biggest Canadian corporations, Saskatchewan has the second highest rate with women occupying 23.2 per cent of available seats.

“Despite the fact that it’s a small sample size, something good is happening,” said Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst.

Johnston explained just nine major companies are headquartered in Saskatchewan. By comparison, she said, there are 83 based in Alberta and 63 in Ontario.

“We view 25 per cent as the sweet spot, so those companies are closing in on that sweet spot where you legitimately start to see the kind of cultural change that’s fairly transformative,” said Johnston.

The study found that overall women held 15.9 per cent of board seats in 2013, representing an increase of around 1.5 per cent from the 2011 data.

In addition, Crown corporations earned the highest rating of women’s representation at 30.4 per cent while private sector companies dropped a fraction of a point to 18.6 per cent.

Betty-Ann Heggie, a Saskatchewan businesswoman who climbed the ladder at PotashCorp to senior vice-president status before retiring in 2007, said a possible explanation for Saskatchewan’s score is there are more government boards than private boards in the province.

“The private sector is amazingly slow at getting women on boards,” said Heggie. “They go with what they know and they’re generally more comfortable with some guy who looks like them and sounds like them.”

One of the reasons gender diversity is so important in the workplace, said Johnston, is because “we cannot be truly competitive as a country if we’re not leveraging our full talent pool.”

See how each province breaks down for women’s representaton on boards of directors below.

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