Four women who broke the glass ceiling at Algoma Steel

Just a year ago, Algoma Steel was proposing to go public with an all-male board. Since then, two women have cracked the glass ceiling of the steelmaker. A third is expected to join them next month.

Around this time last year, as Algoma Steel prepared to launch as a publicly traded company, its boardroom and executive suites were a man’s world.

All 15 director and executive nominees described in Algoma’s regulatory filings were male.

“Upon closing of the merger, Algoma will have no women on its board of directors and no women in senior management,” the steelmaker said in a preliminary circular filed with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. .

As SooToday pointed out, the last Standard and Poor’s 500 company with an all-male board finally added a female director just over two months earlier.

Even six years ago, only a dozen companies in the S&P 500 had no female directors, compared to 60 companies a decade earlier.

Last October, Algoma Steel changed its tone.

He announced that he had found two directors worthy of his board of directors: Mary Anne Bueschkens and Gale Rubenstein.

Both were lawyers with extensive business experience.

Bueschkens had been president and CEO of auto parts supplier ABC Technologies Inc.

Rubenstein was an expert in areas such as corporate pensions, governance, restructuring, regulatory issues and crisis management.

Now, Algoma Steel has signaled that it wants to add a third female director at the next annual general meeting of its board of directors on September 20, 2022.

The company has also set up a skills matrix to assess the qualifications of its directors.

Interestingly, Algoma Steel’s most qualified manager appears to be a woman.

But the story of Algoma Steel’s smashing ceilings dates back to 2007, when local attorney Victoria Chiappetta became the steelmaker’s vice president, legal and general counsel.

She was the first and only woman ever appointed to Algoma’s leadership ranks.

After five years of service there, Chiappetta was appointed a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Since late 2020, she has served as Chair of the Federal Specific Claims Tribunal, a joint initiative with the Assembly of First Nations to expedite the resolution of specific claims “to bring justice to First Nations claimants and provide certainty to the government, industry and all Canadians. .”

The latest female addition to Algoma Steel’s board of directors is expected to be Ave Lethbridge.

Here’s how Lethbridge is described in a recent Algoma regulatory filing;

Lethbridge is a corporate director and was most recently Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Safety and Ethics Officer of Toronto Hydro Corporation, an electric and energy utility company, a position she held from November 2013 until his retirement in December 2021.

During her 23-year career beginning in 1998, she held a variety of progressive senior management positions with Toronto Hydro encompassing human resources, environment, health and safety, business continuity and disaster command. pandemic incident, corporate social responsibility, sustainability (ESG), climate change strategy. objectives, mergers and restructuring, leadership succession, business risk, security and crisis management, regulatory compliance, strategy, technological change and innovation, government relations and corporate governance.

From 2002 to 2004, she was Vice President, Organizational Development and Head of Corporate Performance and Ethics. From 2004 to 2007, she was Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness; and from 2008 to 2013, she served as Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness and Environmental Health and Safety.

His experience also includes the gas, utility and telecommunications industry. Ms. Lethbridge has served on the board of directors of Kinross Gold Corporation, a TSX and NYSE listed issuer, since 2015, and is currently a member of the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee and Chair of the Resources Committee. human resources and compensation. Committee.

She previously served on the Kinross Audit and Risk Committee from 2015 to 2018 and the Corporate and Technical Responsibility Committee from 2018 to 2019.

Ms. Lethbridge holds a Master of Science in Organizational Development from Pepperdine University in California, with international counseling in the United States, China and Mexico.

She has completed the Institute of Corporate Directors’ Directors Education Program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and currently holds the ICD.D designation.

She is a Certified Human Resources Manager and former Governor of the Georgian College Board of Trustees.

In 2021, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award (2021 OEA Energy Awards) from the Ontario Energy Association.

Algoma Steel admits that it still does not have a formal policy on the representation of women or other designated groups on its board or senior management, as it considers diversity as part of its overall annual assessment of candidates.

As SooToday reported, Algoma’s new CEO, Michael Garcia, arrived in Sault three months ago with a reputation for promoting gender and racial diversity in leadership.

Garcia takes to social media to congratulate women and racialized people appointed to boards and management.

He is a member of the Latino Corporate Directors Association and was hosted in Sault last month by members of the Northern Ontario Latin-Hispanic Association.

“Gender is of particular importance to us to ensure diversity on the board and in management,” the company recently told the Securities Exchange Commission.

“Recommendations for board candidates are primarily based on merit and performance, but diversity is taken into consideration, as it is beneficial that a diversity of backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences is present in the board of directors and management.”

“The level of representation of women has been, and will continue to be, considered by the company, the Board of Directors and the Nominating and Governance Committee when appointing members of senior management.”

“When searching for new senior executives, the Nominating and Governance Committee will consider the level of female representation and diversity in leadership as one of many factors used in its search process.”

“This will be achieved by continuously monitoring the level of representation of women in leadership positions and, where appropriate, recruiting qualified female candidates as part of our overall recruitment and selection process to fill leadership positions, based on need, through vacancies, growth or otherwise.”

Meanwhile, if Algoma’s skills matrix is ​​any indicator of leadership aptitude, the company’s most qualified director is Mary Anne Bueschkens.

His skills and knowledge cover 25 of the 30 areas listed on the Algoma matrix:

  • Accounting
  • Bank and finance
  • Brand management
  • CEO/General Management
  • Compensation
  • Environment
  • Governance
  • Health and security
  • Information technology and cybersecurity
  • Labor relations
  • Law – Society
  • Law – Labor
  • Maintenance
  • Major construction projects
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Operations
  • Public board experience
  • Risk management
  • Sales
  • Strategic planning
  • Supply Chain
  • training and DEVELOPMENT
  • Manufacturing – General
  • Manufacturing – discreet
  • Manufacturing process

The only areas in which Bueschkens is not listed as having skills or knowledge are marketing, public relations, government relations, electric arc furnaces and integrated steelmaking.

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