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Deloitte Global finds gender diversity on boards doubled in organizations with female leadership

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  • The publication explores the efforts of 64 countries to promote boardroom diversity
  • Reveals 15 percent of all board seats are filled by women globally, representing a 3 percent increase since 2015 edition of the publication
  • Companies with a female chair have nearly double the number of women serving on boards as compared to when boards are led by a male chair (29 percent versus 16 percent, respectively). The numbers are nearly identical when looking at female CEOs and the number of women serving on their boards as compared to male CEOs (29 percent vs 15 percent, respectively)

NEW YORK, NY, USA, 6 June 2017-Women are still largely under-represented on corporate boards, despite continued efforts to improve boardroom gender diversity. Released today, the fifth edition of Deloitte Global’s Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective publication explores the efforts of more than 60 countries to promote boardroom gender diversity, and reveals that women hold just 15 percent of board seats worldwide. These numbers show only modest progress from the 2015 edition of Women in the Boardroom.

For the first time, the publication includes a region-by-region analysis of the relationship between corporate leadership and diversity. A direct correlation was found between female leadership (CEOs and board chairs) to board seats held by women.

“Organizations with women in the top leadership positions have almost double the number of board seats held by women. The inverse is true as well, with gender diverse boards more likely to appoint a female CEO and board chair,” said Dan Konigsburg, senior managing director of Deloitte’s Global Center for Corporate Governance. “This illustrates an important trend—as the number of female CEOs and board chairs climbs, it is likely to spur greater board diversity. Yet, the percentage of women securing top leadership roles remains very low, with women holding only 4 percent of CEO and board chair positions globally.”

Bridging the gender divide in the workforce is not only a matter of fairness, but also of effective governance and inclusive economic growth.

Inclusive growth and the future of work

As organizations navigate technological and societal shifts which are transforming the future of work, boards will have a critical role to play. Diversity of thought—and people—will be critical to ensure that board members are exploring challenges from every angle and consistently bringing a fresh point of view.

“Enhancing the diversity of the workforce and fostering inclusive growth is top of mind for Deloitte,” continued Konigsburg. “To support these goals, we are actively involved with initiatives ranging from our engagement with the B20 to increase female workforce participation, to our collaboration with the OECD in support of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes bringing gender equality to the center of economic development.”
Konigsburg added, “Deloitte also continues to advocate for diversity in boardrooms through our ‘Board Ready’ programs which are delivered across the globe to help prepare women for board service.”

Highlights of additional findings from the research include:

Boardrooms across the Americas region are not highly gender diverse

  • In the U.S., only 14 percent of board seats are held by women, a 2 percentage point increase from the 2015 edition. The percent of female board chairs has not progressed, remaining at just under four percent. 
  • The percent of board seats held by women in Canada grew to 18 percent, a 5 percentage point increase since 2015. The percentage of boards led by women dropped from 6 percent in 2015 to 5 percent in 2017. 
  • In Latin and South America overall, only 7 percent of board seats are held by women and 2 percent of board chairs are women. 

Progress across EMEA varies significantly

  • 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. 
  • The percentage of board seats held by women has increased to 28 percent in Italy. However the number of female board chairs fell 14 percentage points since 2015 to 9 percent.  

Boardroom diversity in Australasia is on the rise

  • There are no gender quotas in Australia for women on boards; however the numbers continue to improve. 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 percentage point increase) and the number of female board chairs increasing to 11 percent (a 6 percentage point increase).

Asia-Pacific lags behind other regions

  • At 8 percent, gender diversity in some of Asia’s leading economies is the lowest compared to other parts of the world. Only a few countries in the region have quotas or other approaches to address the issue. 

About Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective

On behalf of Deloitte Global, MSCI ESG Research Inc. collected boardroom diversity data covering nearly 7,000 companies in 44 countries spanning Asia Pacific, the Americas, and EMEA. The data was collected as of 15 December 2016. Based on this data, the Women in the Boardroom publication includes global, regional and country analysis of the progress made towards greater board diversity. It also includes a breakdown of how well women are represented in boardrooms across 6 key industries—financial services; consumer business; technology; media, and telecommunications; manufacturing; life sciences and health care; and energy and resources. To supplement this data, Deloitte Global compiled information about diversity quotas and other board diversity initiatives from 20 additional countries. So, in total the publication explores the efforts of 64 countries to promote boardroom gender diversity. Finally, interviews were conducted with 4 directors from Australia, Japan, UK and US to provide editorial perspective about the publication findings and additional insight into how boardroom diversity is progressing in their parts of the world.

About Deloitte’s Global Center for Corporate Governance

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Global Center for Corporate Governance brings together the knowledge and experience of Deloitte member firms around the world in the critical area of corporate governance. Its mission is to promote dialogue in the critical area of corporate governance among Deloitte practitioners, corporations and their boards of directors, investors, the accounting profession, academia, and government. Since 2009, the Global Center has launched 44 centers of corporate governance in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Find us online at: www.global.corpgov.deloitte.com.

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 50® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and high-quality service to address clients’ most complex business challenges. To learn more about how Deloitte’s approximately 245,000 professionals make an impact that matters, please connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Contact

Lesley Stephen
Global Communications
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
Tel: +1 212 436 4325
lstephen@deloitte.com

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