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A global demand for more women on boards

Globally, the rate of gender diversity on corporate boards and leadership teams is increasing, but the pace of change is very slow. Boards and executive suites are still dominated by men as companies look to increase the number of women on their boards and executive teams. Despite economic uncertainty, advancing gender equity remains a corporate priority in 2022.

Studies show that companies with more diverse boards and leadership teams perform better because of a broader range of experience, skills, and perspectives.

An analysis of the current female representation in executive leadership positions is presented in the BoardEx Global Gender Diversity 2022 report. Here we examine the key findings.

Globally, there is much room for improvement

In the first quarter of 2022, 1,677 major, publicly traded companies across 20 countries had low female representation in their boardrooms and executive suites, according to the data collected by BoardEx.

The overall percentage of female board members is 28.2 per cent, but the difference between non-executive and executive board members is considerable.

  • Non-executive women account for 32.1 per cent of board membership, but only 9.9 per cent of executive board seats are held by women, and just 8.9 per cent of boards are chaired by women.

  • BoardEx reports that female representation on corporate leadership teams is even lower than on boards, at 19.2 per cent.

  • Companies with female CEOs or chairs tend to have greater gender diversity on their boards and leadership teams than those with male CEOs or chairs.

Women on boards in different countries

Globally, there was greater female representation on corporate boards than a decade ago, but regional differences in gender diversity varied widely.

In France, the percentage of women on the boards at the 40 top listed companies stood at 44%, ahead of Italy and the United Kingdom (just under 40%).

In Sweden, Australia, and the Netherlands, over 35 per cent of board members in the largest listed firms are women.

There were more female board members in Europe and North America than in Asia and other emerging markets, although South Africa’s share was above the global average at 34 per cent.

Changes in corporate culture and legislation have a role to play

Quotas for women on boards

In countries with mandatory or voluntary quotas for women on boards, female board representation was higher.

The report found that women accounted for 32 per cent of board members in the 11 countries with such quotas, compared to an average of 24 per cent in the nine countries without.

“The figures suggest that mandating female representation on boards can help improve gender balance. Yet the reality beneath is more complex,” suggests the report. “Changes in corporate culture and legislation have a role to play here, and their combination will be unique to each country.”

Only five per cent of the corporations surveyed had women CEOs

The number of women on executive leadership teams

There are only four countries with more than 26 per cent female representation in their leadership teams: Australia, Sweden, Ireland, and Singapore.

Only five per cent of the corporations surveyed had women CEOs.

In the US, the proportion of women CEOs of corporations in the S&P 500 was only slightly higher than the global average at 6.8 per cent.

Further reading

  1. European Union agrees to impose a 40% quota for women on boards

  2. eBook: Opportunities for women on boards

  3. Firms must recruit more women board members

Credit for content and article go to The Corporate Governance Institute and Stephen Conmy


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