Deloitte report says quotas are getting women on boards but not into chair roles

The Deloitte Global Center for Corporate Governance has released its fourth edition of “Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective.”

Overall, women now hold 12 percent of seats worldwide with only 4 percent chairing boards.

Breaking it down, European countries still win on gender diversity in the boardroom, with countries like Norway, France, Sweden and Italy with the highest percentage of women serving on boards.

As regions, countries in the Americas and Asia Pacific region have progressed the least.

Those countries that have imposed quotas have managed to increase women on boards the most, (Norway has raised its women on boards to 36.7 percent, the highest in the region) but quotas haven’t increased the number of women leading boards (just 18.2 percent of Norwegian boards have women chairs).

In terms of women chairs, the three regions have approximately the same percentage: Europe/Middle East/Africa (5 percent), the Americas (4 percent) and Asia-Pacific (4 percent).

Back in New Zealand, 14 percent of directors on NZX-listed companies (excluding overseas companies) are women, compared to 11 percent in the same period in 2013.

Chairwoman of TVNZ & Mighty River Power and Global Women board member Joan Withers says in the report that “the percentage of women occupying board positions is improving, but progress is slow. For a country which was first to give women the right to vote and has had, to date, two female prime ministers, the pace of change is disappointing.”

While the NZX has adopted a position on gender diversity, the Human Rights Commission says quotas and affirmative action would require serious consideration if the NZX guidelines do not have a significant impact over the next few years. These guidelines, instated in 2012, were that public companies must provide a gender breakdown of their boards and evaluate their diversity performance.

“There are, however, a number of initiatives progressing to support women coming through the ranks, assist them in becoming ‘board-ready,’ and provide mentoring as they first assume governance roles,” says Withers.
“There is also a concerted effort being made to give strong encouragement to boards where women are absent or significantly underrepresented.”

In its first version, back in 2011, Deloitte struggled to find 13 countries with diversity legislation or significant programs; today it has details on 49 countries around the world.