The representation of women on corporate boards continues to increase, but the number of women leading boards still remains low globally, according to the fourth edition of the survey Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective, conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) among 49 countries. The survey found that women hold just 12% of seats worldwide and chair only 4% of boards.
“While we’ve seen a welcome increase in women on boards,” says Dan Konigsburg, managing director, DTTL Global Center for Corporate Governance, “the number of women securing the chair role remains elusive even in the most progressive countries.”
The survey results show that European countries continue to lead on gender diversity in the boardroom, with Norway, France, Sweden and Italy among the countries with the highest percentage of women serving on boards. Regionally, countries in the Americas and Asia Pacific region have progressed the least. With respect to women chairs, the three regions have approximately the same percentage: Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at 5%, the Americas at 4% and Asia-Pacific at 4%.
In many countries, the chair is an executive position, but the absence of women among chairs is revealing. “For example, Denmark has the sixth-highest number of women on its boards, yet ranks at the bottom—not a single board in Denmark had a women chair according to our study,” notes Mr. Konigsburg. “Denmark is not the only country where this is the case: The same is true in of the Netherlands and Ireland, to name just a few countries where this dynamic is in play,” he adds.