Canadian Association for Supported Employment

Few Persons Who Experience Disability in Executive Positions

Statistics Canada reported that, in 2019, just under one per cent (0.8 per cent) of corporate executives in Canada experienced disability. 

This figure remains unchanged from 2016. Of executives experiencing disability, more than three in five were directors (almost 61 per cent), while slightly fewer than two in five were officers (39 per cent).

 It’s important to note that the method used to define disability may limit the number of executives experiencing disability included in this figure:

  • The 0.8 per cent figure is based on executives who applied for the federal disability tax credit (DTC). 
  • Only Canadians with a severe and prolonged disability are eligible for the DTC. Persons who experience a disability that is less severe or recent, or those who do not have access to a medical professional to certify the effects of their disability, may not be eligible for the DTC.

ExecutivesIndividuals who occupy a leadership and strategic decision-making role within an enterprise and who contribute as either a board director or an officer.

Directors or Board MembersIndividuals responsible for supervising the activities of a corporation and for making decisions for those corporations.

OfficersStaff members responsible for leading the day-to-day operations of a corporation. 

The most common disabilities were related to mobility (35.6%), mental health-related (17.8%), dressing (15.1%), speaking (10.5%), hearing (7.8%) and other disabilities (life-sustaining therapy, vision and feeding) (13.2%). Sources: Statistics Canada. T1 Family File, 2019. Corporations Returns Act, 2019.

Osler Study Confirms Rarity of Representation

A separate 2022 study by Osler, a leading business law firm, found that 10 persons experiencing disability held board positions in the 268 public companies who disclosed this information. Those 10 positions represented just 0.6 per cent of the total number of board positions across those companies.

Fourteen companies had at least one executive officer experiencing disability, up from five companies in 2020. An average of 0.06 per cent of executive officers per company experienced a disability. The disclosure method used to identify disability differs by company.

The Osler study also noted that, while a small percentage of companies have a goal to increase the number of directors who are members of visible minorities (2.1 per cent) and Indigenous peoples (1.5 per cent), no such goals exist for persons experiencing disability.

Image that contains a graphic representation of the statistics mentioned in the text.