Mideast lagging in women on corporate boards
Mideast lagging in women on corporate boards
BEIRUT, 2 days ago
The Middle East region in general lags behind most developed nations when it comes to the number of women serving on corporate boards, said an industry expert, highlighting the need to do more.
“The global statistics mask important differences within countries. For example, Scandinavian countries have successful policies that make it easier for women to serve on boards, compared with the Asia-Pacific region which has been slow to implement such policies,” added Rana Ghandour Salhab, talent and communications partner at Deloitte Middle East, a leading provider of audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services.
Ghandour was commenting on the fourth edition of the Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective by Deloitte.
Globally, the representation of women on corporate boards continues to increase, but the number of women leading boards still remains low globally, the report said.
Overall, women now hold 12 per cent of seats worldwide with only 4 per cent chairing boards.
The report outlines the efforts of 49 countries to increase the number of women occupying board seats. European countries continue to lead on gender diversity in the boardroom, with Norway, France, Sweden and Italy all ranking high. Regionally, countries in the Americas and Asia Pacific region have progressed the least.
According to the report the regional breakdown of women chairs is: Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) (5 per cent), the Americas (4 per cent) and Asia-Pacific (4 per cent).
“Research shows that women are a key driving force for the GCC economic engine. There is a strong business case for having more women on such leadership platforms as diverse and balanced teams improve an organization’s bottom line. In fact, companies with more women on their boards were found to outperform their rivals,” said Cynthia Corby, audit partner, Deloitte UAE.
Key findings from the research:
Boardrooms across the Americas region are not highly gender diverse
Progress towards increasing the number of women on boards in the Americas region has been slow.
• In the US, only 12 per cent of board seats are held by women and 3 per cent of board chairs are women.
• At present, in Canada, 13 per cent of board seats are held by women. However, the percentage of boards led by women is 6 per cent.
Progress across the EMEA varies significantly
• In the UK, there are no quotas in place for women on boards, but all Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 companies have women represented, with 16 per cent of board seats held by women, while 4 per cent of board chairs are women.
• France reinforced boardroom gender diversity quotas in 2014. As a result, the number of women serving on boards (30 per cent) continues to increase, while 3 per cent of board chairs are women.
• Italy introduced a ‘gender balance’ quota in 2011. The quotas have helped to provide a significant increase in the number of women represented on boards, with the percentage of board seats and board chairs currently at 22 per cent.
• Germany will introduce a mandatory gender quota from 2016 onward for supervisory boards of about 100 listed companies with employee codetermination (where workers participate in management of the companies they work for). Eighteen per cent of board seats are currently held by women and 4 per cent of board chairs are women.
Asia-Pacific lags behind other regions
At 6 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.
• Many Indian companies have started to introduce women directors to their boards. Currently 8 per cent of board seats are held by women and 3 per cent of boards chairs are women.
• In Hong Kong, only about 10 per cent of the board members of listed companies are women, even though women account for almost half of the total workforce.
• There are no gender quotas in Australia for women on boards or in senior positions; however the numbers are gradually improving. The percentage of board seats held by women is currently 15 per cent and 6 per cent of board chairs are women.
“We’ve seen a welcome increase in women on boards globally; however the number of women securing the top spot remains elusive even in the most progressive countries. Of course, in many countries, the chair is an executive position, but this absence of women among chairs is revealing” explained Salhab.
“There needs to be more focus on changing perceptions, tackling stereotyping through awareness, learning and role modelling, in addition to the adoption of laws that support gender diversity and introduction of policies that allow women to advance their careers while managing their demanding family roles,” she concluded.