Press releases

Slow progress for gender diversity in the boardroom

31 October 2019

  • UK boards have less than a quarter of female representation (22.7%)
  • Women only hold 16.9% of board seats globally
  • Companies with a female chair or chief executive have almost twice as many women directors as corporations led by men

A new report on women on boards shows the UK and other countries are making very little progress on improving gender diversity in the boardroom. UK boards now have less than a quarter of female representation (22.7%), compared to 20.3% when the report was last released in 2017. Women hold just 16.9% of board seats globally, a 1.9% increase from the report’s last edition. Meanwhile women hold 12.7% of CFO roles globally – nearly three times that of CEO positions.

Deloitte’s sixth edition of ‘Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective’ found women are still under-represented on corporate boards, despite efforts to improve inclusion and gender balance and a growing body of evidence suggesting that diversity at the top can bring competitive advantages to corporations and investors.

Companies with a female chair or chief executive are making greater strides towards gender diversity in the boardroom and have almost twice as many women directors as corporations led by men. Globally there are 28.3% of women on boards with a female chair, compared to 17.1% with a male chair.

Sharon Thorne, Deloitte Global Board Chair, said: “It’s clear that progress in boardroom diversity is painfully slow. If the global trend continues at its current rate of an approximately one per cent increase of women on boards per year, we will be waiting more than 30 years to achieve global gender parity at the board level.”

The data shows six countries that have over 30% of women on boards — Norway, France, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, and Belgium. Three of these six have implemented gender quota legislation, while the other half have addressed diversity efforts without gender quotas.

Thorne added: “There is no quick fix to diversity in business, however corporate culture is by far one of the most important forces in encouraging change - not just at the top but throughout an organisation. Programmes and targets are critical but neither of these on their own will succeed in improving diversity without a culture of inclusion.”

Studies have repeatedly shown that increasing diversity is not only the right thing to do for an organisation’s culture, it also leads to better business outcomes. Increased diversity leads to smarter decision-making, contributes to an organisation’s bottom line, and powers innovation, among other benefits.

Dimple Agarwal, managing partner for People & Purpose at Deloitte UK, concluded: “The benefits of diversity extend beyond the four walls of any single organisation. The trickle-down effect of women in the boardroom, such as breaking down stereotypes, encouraging girls and young women to raise their sights, believe in their potential and pursue careers traditionally dominated by men, and reducing the gender pay gap are all important steps along the way to greater economic opportunity for women and to more inclusive workforces and societies.”

Other findings of note:

  • Norway, with 41% women on boards, was the first country to enact a gender quota legislation (a 40% quota) in 2005.
  • France, with 37% women on boards, also has a 40% gender quota which became effective in 2017.
  • Belgium, with 30% women on boards, has a gender quota which requires at least a one-third representation of each gender on the board.


Notes to editors

Deloitte Global’s Women in the Boardroom report shares the latest statistics on global boardroom diversity, exploring the efforts of 66 countries to increase gender diversity in their boardrooms and features insights on the political, social, and legislative trends behind the numbers. The UK sample is based on 516 UK companies.

About Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective
On behalf of Deloitte Global, MSCI ESG Research Inc. collected boardroom diversity data covering nearly 8,648 companies in 49 countries spanning Asia Pacific, the Americas, and EMEA. The data was collected as of 15 December 2018. 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 six 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 17 additional countries. So, in total, the publication explores the efforts of 66 countries to promote boardroom gender diversity. Finally, interviews were conducted with three directors from Australia, the United States, and Spain to provide editorial perspective about the publication findings and additional insight into how boardroom diversity is progressing in their parts of the world.

About the Deloitte’s Global Center for Corporate Governance
The Deloitte 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 among Deloitte practitioners, corporations and their boards of directors, investors, the accounting profession, academia, and government. Since 2009, the Global Center has launched over 65 centers of corporate governance in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Find us online at:

About Deloitte
In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.

Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

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

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