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Visualizing the Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide

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Visualizing the Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide


The Rise of Women on Boards

The Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide

Women’s representation in the boardroom is a mixed bag. The number of women on boards is rising across the globe—but the rate of increase has slowed for three of the past four years.

Based on MSCI research of All Country World Index (ACWI) constituent companies, the graphic above reveals a 10-year trend of women’s representation on corporate boards, and projects three future scenarios on the way to parity.

ESG Goals: The Path to Parity

The ESG ecosystem considers 30% representation to be a critical milestone on the road to reaching gender parity on corporate boards of directors.

Following a small uptick in 2019—and two years of slowed growth from 2017 to 2018—the rise of women on boards slowed again in 2020, gaining 0.6 percentage points (p.p.).

Based on different forward-looking scenarios, here’s how long it could take to reach equal representation:

  Progressive scenario Business-as-usual scenario Deceleration scenario
Years to reach 30%
Women on Boards (WoB)
6 years 9 years 16 years
Year we may reach >50% WoB 2039 2045 2070

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

On the whole, parity on corporate boards could be reached as early as 2039 or as late as 2070.

Women’s Representation: State of the Unions

MSCI research reveals trends that highlight significant traction. In 2020, fewer women became directors, but all-male boards continued to decline worldwide to 17% in 2020 (a 2 p.p. drop) among the ACWI contingent.

This trend is partially driven by emerging markets, where all-male boards dropped to 31%, from over 34% initially. Hong Kong is one of the few countries that actually experienced an increase of 5 p.p. in all-male boards. In contrast, Saudi Arabia’s share reduced by 8 p.p. to 86% in 2020.

Country % Companies with 3+ WoB Country % Companies with no WoB
🇳🇴 Norway 100% 🇶🇦 Qatar 100%
🇮🇹 Italy 100% 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 86%
🇧🇪 Belgium 100% 🇦🇷 Argentina 67%
🇵🇹 Portugal 100% 🇭🇺 Hungary 67%
🇫🇷 France 100% 🇰🇷 South Korea 65%
🇸🇪 Sweden 91% 🇦🇪 UAE 63%
🇫🇮 Finland 91% 🇨🇱 Chile 44%
🇪🇸 Spain 90% 🇲🇽 Mexico 38%
🇬🇧 UK 85% 🇭🇰 Hong Kong 37%
🇦🇹 Austria 83% 🇮🇩 Indonesia 36%

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

Europe continues to lead the world in gender representation on boards. All top 10 countries with three or more women directors are found in the region, with countries like Norway, Italy, and Belgium being the closest to reaching parity.

Across sectors, utilities experienced the largest increase in companies with three or more women on boards, with a 9% jump between 2019-2020.

The Other Glass Ceiling: The C-Suite

The number of women CEOs remains low across all regions, but CFO roles show more promise.

  MSCI World, 2017 MSCI World, 2020 MSCI EM, 2017 MSCI EM, 2020
Women in CEO roles 4.7% 4.9% 3.3% 4.8%
Women in CFO roles 9.4% 12.1% 9.8% 18.7%

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

This global rise is also largely thanks to emerging markets. Since 2017, emerging market companies have exhibited higher percentages of CFOs than companies in developed markets, and the difference is widening.

The Glass Ceiling Isn’t Unbreakable

As MSCI reports, the progress towards parity in boardrooms does not necessarily represent the workplace. Emerging research suggests that women have been more negatively impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout—potentially undoing several years’ worth of improvements.

However, developing nations still show promising results in key indicators of gender diversity, with further opportunity to grow corporate bottom lines.

As more post-pandemic recovery data becomes available amidst vaccine rollouts, we’ll gain a better sense of whether we’re still on track to follow these long-term trends.

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The post Visualizing the Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide appeared first on Visual Capitalist.



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