Women in the boardroom International perspectives Audit

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Women in the boardroom

A global perspective

The representation of women on corporate boards continues to increase, but the number of women leading boards still remains low globally. Overall, women now hold 12 percent of seats worldwide with only 4 percent chairing boards.

This fourth edition report outlines the efforts of 49 countries to increase the number of women occupying board seats.

European countries continue to lead on gender diversity in the boardroom, with Norway, France, Sweden and Italy among the countries with the highest percentage of women serving on boards. Regionally, countries in the Americas and Asia Pacific region have progressed the least. WIth respect to women chairs, the three regions have approximately the same percentage: EMEA (5 percent), the Americas (4 percent) and Asia-Pacific (4 percent).

“We’ve seen a welcome increase in women on boards; however the number of women securing the top spot remains elusive even in the most progressive countries. Of course, in many countries, the chair is an executive position, but this absence of women among chairs is revealing. For example, Denmark has the sixth-highest number of women on its boards, yet ranks at the bottom—not a single board in Denmark had a women chair in our study. This is not the only country where this is the case.

The global statistics mask important differences within countries. For example, Scandinavian countries have successful policies that make it easier for women to serve on boards, compared with the Asia-Pacific region’s slow growth.  So, it’s clear that more can be done. We actively encourage increased collaborative effort from organizations, governments and policy-makers; it is the only way we will begin to see results." - Dan Konigsburg, Managing Director, DTTL Global Center for Corporate Governance.