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Credit Suisse Gender 3000 report shows women hold almost a quarter of board room positions globally

The Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) has today published its latest ‘Gender 3000 in 2021: Broadening the diversity discussion’ report.

The research:

  • Tracks the changing gender profile of senior executives and boardrooms across global industries from a unique bottom up perspective.
  • Reveals boardroom diversity continues to improve globally with an approximate average of 24% of women sitting in corporate boardrooms. The percentage of women in senior management positions (“C-suite” roles) has also improved to 20%.
  • Illustrates a positive correlation between increased gender diversity in leadership positions and superior returns on capital, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and stock performance. The more pervasive diversity is within an organization, the stronger the relationship.
  • Outlines the state of female representation in entrepreneurship. Over the past five years, the ratio of female-to male-founded start-ups is up from 0.62 to 0.73 but challenges remain for female founders.

The 2021 Gender 3000 report provides an updated universe of companies and analyses progress made to improve the profile of gender diversity. It also focuses on executive positions rather than just the boardroom as another metric to inform improvements in gender diversity. The report analyses the gender breakdown of 33,000 senior executives from over 3,000 companies across 46 countries.

Women on boards

Between 2015 and 2021, the percentage of women on boards globally increased by 8.9 percentage points and more than doubled if judged back to the start of the decade. Europe and North America led the global average with 34.4% and 28.6% of women on boards. Asia Pacific came in at 17.3% and Latin America at 12.7%. Relative performance tends to reflect the prevalence of ESG investing but also where policy pressure has been the greatest.

European countries led globally in percentage of female directors on the board with France being the leader at 45%. The UK came in at 10th with 35% meeting the prior targets of “The 30% Club” set originally for the FTSE 100 and FTSE 350.

There are considerable differences within APAC, with female board representation ranging from 34% in Australia/New Zealand – where disclosure requirements and an ESG focus are perhaps more akin to those in Europe and North America – to a lowly 9% in South Korea. While there are admittedly improvements in all countries, the needle has been moving in a particularly positive manner in Australia/New Zealand, together with Singapore and Malaysia. The progress in the major Asian economies (China, India, Japan and Korea) has been sluggish by comparison as has been the case in Latin America.

Women in the C-Suite

The Credit Suisse Gender 3000 also evaluates how diversity is reflected in management teams. The average percentage of women in senior management (defined as the number of female executives as a proportion of all executives in our Gender 3000 database) has improved from 17.6% in our 2019 report to 19.9% in 2021.

Europe and North America have the largest share of women in management roles but the divide between these regions and the rest of the world is far less than at the board level. The gap at the management level is only 1 percentage point.

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