Insights

Women in the boardroom

A global perspective

Women are still largely under-represented on corporate boards, despite continued efforts to improve boardroom gender diversity. Our 5th edition of our Women in the Boardroom report outlines efforts in nearly 60 countries to increase the number of women occupying board seats.

Our latest edition also provides global, regional, and country-specific analysis of women serving on boards, inclusive of how they are serving on board-level committees.

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Highlights include:

  • Women hold 15 percent of board seats worldwide, a slight increase from our previous edition.
  • Organizations with women in the top leadership positions have almost double the number of board seats held by women.
  • Women hold only 4 percent of CEO and board chair positions globally.
  • In the U.S., only 14 percent of board seats are held by women, a 2 percent increase from the 2015 edition. The percent of female board chairs has not progressed, remaining at just under four percent.
  • Norway, the first country to ever introduce a gender quota, has the highest percentage of board seats held by women (42 percent). 7 percent of board chair positions are held by women.
  • In the UK, there are no quotas in place for women on boards, but 20 percent of board seats and 3 percent of board chair positions are held by women.
  • In Australia, the percentage of board seats held by women is currently 20 percent and 5 percent of board chairs are women.
  • New Zealand achieved the strongest growth since 2015, with the number of board seats held by women increasing to 28 percent (a 10 percent increase) and the number of female board chairs increasing to 11 percent (a 6 percent increase).
  • At 8 percent, gender diversity in some of Asia’s leading economies is the lowest compared to other parts of the world.

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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