Press releases

Deloitte finds gender diversity on global boards doubled in organisations with female leadership

6 June 2017

  • 15 per cent of all board seats are filled by women globally, up from 12 per cent in 2015
  • The publication explores the efforts of 64 countries to promote boardroom diversity

Companies with a female CEO or board chair have almost twice as many women on the board as companies led by men. Deloitte’s Women in the Boardroom report, which tracks the efforts of 64 countries to promote boardroom gender diversity, found that 29 per cent of board positions are held by women in companies with a female CEO. This compares to 15 per cent in companies with a male CEO.

Overall, women are still largely under represented on corporate boards, despite continued efforts to improve inclusion and boardroom gender diversity. Only 15 per cent of board seats worldwide are held by women, a modest increase from the 12 per cent reported in the 2015 edition of our report. Norway has the largest share of board seats held by women at 42 per cent, followed by France (33 per cent) and Sweden (32 per cent). The UK is 12th on 20 per cent, an increase from 15.6 per cent in 2015. New Zealand has achieved the strongest growth since 2015, with the number of board seats held by women increasing to 28 per cent from 18 per cent and the number of female chairs increasing to 11 per cent from five per cent. 

Nick Owen, chairman of Deloitte North West Europe, said: “Globally organisations with women in the top leadership positions have double the number of women holding board seats. As the number of female CEOs and board chairs climbs, it is likely to spur greater board diversity and build a culture of inclusion. 

“This is not just about token representation, but active participation by women on boards. Deloitte’s women on boards programme is making sure they develop the skills so their voice can count. Making boards and organisations inclusive is crucial to make sure that all perspectives are taken into account.

“The increase in the number of women on UK boards and the fact that many companies have met or exceeded Lord Davies’ target is positive. The focus is now on the representation of senior women below the board level. The Hampton-Alexander review recommended that women should hold one-third of positions on, or reporting into, executives committees at FTSE 100 companies. Although achieving this will be difficult, more diverse management teams will have a real impact on building an inclusive culture, underpinned by respect. Focusing on culture will enable UK businesses to provide a working environment where people are able to succeed, and are judged solely on the value they bring.

“As organisations 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.”

End

Notes to editors

Deloitte Academy Women on Boards programme
Deloitte places significant emphasis on developing talent – within the firm, in the organisations of our clients, and across a number of institutions. We believe that it is our role, and the role of business leaders across UK business, to invest in a diverse talent pool and develop future leaders at every echelon of society – not least in the boardroom. We launched the Deloitte Academy Women on Boards programme in 2011 following the Lord Davies independent review, as a demonstration of our commitment to providing educational and networking opportunities for senior women aspiring to be considered for a non-executive director position in the UK. Since its launch, over 160 women have participated with almost 30% having now progressed to become non-executive directors.

Boardrooms across the Americas region lacking in gender diversity

  • In the US, only 14 per cent of board seats are held by women, a two percentage point increase from the 2015 edition. The percentage of female board chairs has not progressed, remaining at just under four per cent. 
  • The percentage of board seats held by women in Canada grew to 18 per cent, a five percentage point increase since 2015. The percentage of boards led by women dropped from six per cent in 2015 to five per cent in 2017. 
  • In Latin and South America overall, only seven per cent of board seats are held by women and two per cent of board chairs are women. 

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 per cent and five per cent 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 per cent (a 10 percentage point increase) and the number of female board chairs increasing to 11 per cent (a six percentage point increase).

Asia-Pacific lags behind other regions

  • At eight per cent, 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 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 four 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
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see www.deloitte.co.uk/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

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