European & International News

New Study: Progress and Challenges for Women on Company Boards

[Brussels, 27 April 2016, Press Release by EWoB] European Women on Boards (EWoB) has today published a major new report which examines the progress that women are making on the Boards of the 600 largest European-listed companies.

This comprehensive new study, undertaken in association with ISS, examines how gender diversity in European boardrooms has evolved over the last five years. Across Europe as a whole, it finds evidence of improvement in some areas, and challenges in others.

“Greater gender balance on Boards leads to more successful companies”

EWoB is delighted to announce the publication of ‘Realizing Europe’s Potential: Progress and Challenges’. This timely study highlights trends occurring at the company, country, and sector levels in respect of the involvement of women in European boardrooms.

EWoB report

A significant role for women in leadership positions is of crucial importance to the future of Europe’s economy. An abundance of evidence shows that balanced and diverse Boards are associated with increased innovation, competitiveness, sustainable growth and a more prosperous society.

The landmark study explores a wide range of data relating to the participation of women in European leadership positions, including their remuneration relative to their male counterparts. In addition, it provides a valuable overview of European regulatory frameworks (e.g. relating to quotas and targets for women on boards) which have played a significant role over the last few years.

Marie-Ange Andrieux, Co-Chairwoman of EWoB and co-leader of the study, shared her views on the mixed results. “Our analysis of the STOXX 600 enterprises, which includes leading companies from 17 European countries, reveals that the presence of women on boards has increased from an average of 13.9% to 25% in five years. In particular, the results show that women have materially increased their presence as independent non-executive directors, therefore enabling them to exert critical influence over the strategic decision-making of leading corporations. This is positive progress which will ultimately lead to increased innovation and competitiveness in the European economy and contribute to realize its potential of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”.

Examining the results by country, Sweden tops the table in terms of board gender diversity, followed by Norway, Belgium, Finland and France, where women make up over 30% of board members. The sectors that are top of the class with regards to board gender diversity are the Telecommunications Services, Financials, Utilities, Consumer Staples and Consumer Discretionary sectors.

Dr Roger Barker, EWoB Director, member of the IoD UK and co-leader of the report, remarked in London “While a general trend toward greater female participation on European boards is a key finding of our report, particularly at the non-executive level, there are still clear country-level differences. Overall, there is much more to be done before we can declare that men and women are operating on a level playing field in respect of leadership positions in the European corporate sector”.

EWoB Co-Chairwoman and founding member, Cécile Coune, highlighted the growing role that EWoB is playing in promoting gender equality and diversity in the boardroom. “EWoB is a relatively new organization, but it is already delivering added value with its vision of a dynamic European network of organizations who actively promote board diversity in their respective countries.

It is in the interests of the business community and society as whole for the governance practices of publicly listed companies to be transparent. This study brings sunlight into European boardrooms, and stimulates the debate about how we can build on the progress that has been made by women over the last few years.”

This project was undertaken in collaboration with Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), the leading provider of corporate governance, ESG data and analytics to investors, globally. Jean-Nicolas Caprasse, ISS’ Head of European Business said: “ISS is delighted to support EWoB’s studies with objective analysis and unparalleled current and historical data coverage for European companies.”

Find more info and the full report here

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