Deloitte Global’s “Women in the Boardroom” Report: Much Work to Do to Support Women in Leadership Roles

Progress in achieving gender parity in leadership positions is still insufficient and moves forward at a snail's pace. However, the seventh edition of the Deloitte Global Boardroom Program’s “Women in the Boardroom” Report shows progress toward increasing the number of women in top management of companies. And it aims to find a response to the question – what policies and rules play a decisive role in attempts to reverse the current situation?

“International studies continue to show that diverse boards are effective boards. According to UNDP research, the overall share of women in leadership positions in Ukraine has increased to over 40%, which is much higher than the global average of 29%.
At the same time, we observe a much lower rate of women serving on supervisory boards. While there are no quotas in place, there is nothing preventing companies from adopting more progressive policies themselves.
Gender balance on boards will allow companies to have a better understanding of market needs and help ensure higher-quality decision-making at the highest levels of Ukrainian business,” noted Sergii Kulyk, Managing Partner in Deloitte Ukraine.

At present pace, the world could expect to reach near parity in 2045. This forecast may seem to be not very optimistic, however, in recent years, a positive dynamics is observed in the issue of achieving balance in the boardroom. On average, 19.7% board seats are occupied by women in the companies globally. This is by 2.8 percentage points higher compared to the data of the previous report in 2018. And though the percentage of women on board slowly increases, a relatively small number of women are board chairs – 6.7% versus 5.3% in 2018.

The number of women in CEO roles is even lower – 5% in 2021. This figure has also grown in comparison with the 2018 data – 4.4%. According to the research data, 15.7% of women occupy CFO positions, versus 12.7% in 2018. The trend of increasing the number of women on boards is only the first step on a larger journey to obtaining positions of board chairs and in the executive suite.
In Ukraine, the percentage of women on supervisory boards is 18.3%.

Top five countries
Percentage of board seats held by women
Percentage of CEO roles held by women
Percentage  % change
Percentage  % change
France 43.2  5.9 Singapore
13.1 3.2
1.4 Sweden 
12.4 2.1
36.6  7.3  Thailand 
11.6 1.9
11.5 3.7
1.4  France
9.7 3.5
Source: Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective, 7th edition (2022)

Boards of the companies led by women have a greater gender diversity. Thus, companies with women CEOs have, on average, significantly more gender-balanced boards than those led by men: 33.5% women vs. 19.4%. The finding is similar for companies with female chairs.

Industries with the highest percentage of women on board include health care and life sciences (21.3%), financial services (21.2%), and consumer business (20.8%).

Women with leadership experience have a broader range of opportunities. Such as executive positions that encourage them to leave boards earlier than men. The global average tenure of women in the boardroom has reduced from 5.5 years in 2018 to 5.1 years in 2021. While the average tenure of men in the boardroom has decreased from 8 years in 2018 to 7.6 years in 2021.

Quotas matter. Average global indicator of female representation on boards includes both countries that in the vanguard of parity and those lagging behind. Let us take France as an example, the average number of women in the boardroom amounted to 43.2% in 2021, which is not least explained by a 40% gender quota implemented more than 10 years ago. On the other hand, the average global figure of 19.7% is also reached by such countries as Qatar (1.2%) and Saudi Arabia (1.7%) where the legislation on gender quotas and other strategies to increase female representation on boards remain disputable. Or South Korea (4.3%), which only in August 2020 introduced certain legislative gender requirements.

There are no quotas in place for women serving on boards in Ukraine.

Research methodology
The global, regional, and country analyses are based on a dataset covering 10,493 companies in 52 countries – more than 176,340 directorships – spanning Asia Pacific, the Americas, and EMEA. Only active directorships and committee memberships were considered in the analysis. To supplement these data, Deloitte compiled information on diversity quotas and other diversity initiatives in 65 countries of the world. A full listing of countries covered in this publication is provided in the research.

Women in the boardroom: A global perspective
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