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Gender split on boards still far from balanced

Women’s participation in leadership roles and on the boards of corporate entities remains low, according to new research.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 31 March 2020 Corporate Counsel
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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.

The research found that while the number of women directors has “increased dramatically”, the gender balance of global boards “still isn’t anywhere close to parity”.


Across the globe, only 22 per cent of corporate directors are women, and only 7 per cent of board leadership roles around the world are filled by female directors.

Moreover, only 3 per cent of all female directors currently hold board leadership roles, the report continued, compared to the 14 per cent of male directors who hold board leadership roles. Put another way – men are more than four and a half times (4.67 times) more likely to be a lead director or board chair than their female counterparts.

These numbers are not surprising, the report noted.

“While women have begun joining boards in higher numbers over the last few years, it is a recent phenomenon, so there has been less time and opportunity for women to assume board leadership roles,” the report read.

“That said, the data also show that there is still a long road to walk before corporate boards reach gender parity, either in overall board membership, or especially in terms of board leadership.”

In the same research, Diligent found 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, and also that once women are appointed to boards, they are included in committees and related leadership roles.

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