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).

Women in the boardroom: A global perspective

“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

Social network diagram

The Women on Corporate Boards Pilot is an interactive network visualization linking companies across the globe based on non-executive directors that serve on the boards of common companies. This visualization incorporates several metrics in order to show the connectedness of companies with higher percentages of women on their board.

This visualization consists of several components:

  • Circle color: Corresponds to the percentage of a company's board members that are female. A darker shade indicates a higher proportion of female board members on a specific company board; a white circle indicates the absence of women directors on a specific company board.
  • Connections: A link between companies exists if at least one board member sits on the boards of both companies. The aggregated tenure of the directors the companies have in common is indicated by the length of the line connection. A shorter line connecting two circles represents a greater tenure for the common directors of the two companies.
  • Line color: Blue lines indicate entirely male connections, red lines indicate entirely female connections, and green lines indicate common board members of both genders.

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