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Women joining boards are rising to leadership roles

Once women are appointed to boards, they are included in committees and related leadership roles, according to new research.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 17 March 2020 Corporate Counsel
Women joining boards are rising to leadership roles
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In its A few good women: Gender inclusion in public company board leadership” report, Diligent sought to measure the levels of inclusion of women board directors on public company boards in order to determine whether they were merely being asked to join boards or take on leadership roles, how soon they were put into such roles and how often they take up such roles.

It found that where 22 per cent of board members globally are women, 24 per cent of board committee members are women. 

Even more significantly, it noted, 21 per cent of board committee chairs are women. “That’s almost equal to the percentage of women on boards overall,” Diligent said.


When it comes to board leadership, men are still more likely to directly join a board as the chair or lead director, Diligent ceded, but women are nearly as likely to do so – 45 per cent of men who are in board leadership positions joined and immediately assumed that role, as compared to 40 per cent of women who are in leadership positions.

“While this number isn’t exactly even, it’s far closer to parity than any other global measurement related to gender diversity and corporate board leadership thus far,” Diligent wrote.

In addition, the research found that among all directors who didn’t join the board in a board chair or lead director role but did eventually achieve one, female directors reach those leadership positions faster than their male counterparts.

“It takes women board members 6.31 years on average to achieve a leadership role, as opposed to 8.02 years for men. That’s over a year and a half faster for women on boards to become a board chair or lead director,” Diligent posited.

“This difference provides some evidence that companies are actively seeking fresh perspectives in leadership roles.”

In the same report, Diligent wrote that there are significant benefits to companies that not only move to have more women on their boards but also include them in more meaningful ways.

"While the influx of new talented women entering public company boardrooms is a story worth telling, the level of inclusion of these new directors has received less coverage but is an important part of the story,” it said.

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