A new report on the number of women on the boards of public companies shows that countries with quotas are having more success at closing the gender gap than those relying on non-binding targets.
The survey by Catalyst counted the number of women board members at public companies in 20 countries. Norway, the first country in the world to set a quota of women in 40% of its board seats, tops the table with 35.5% female representation on the boards of its OMX-listed companies. France is also beating expectation at 29.7% - ahead of its 20% target.
One notable figure is that companies in the US have seen virtually no change with 19.2% of the board seats of S&P 500 companies held by women – around the same as last year. This leave the US in joint tenth place in the list of 20, tied with Australia.
However, the UK, which shunned quotas in favour of a 25% target by 2015, rose to sixth in the table with women currently accounting for 22.8% of FTSE 100 board seats.
As recently as 2011, only 12.5% of board seats in the UK were held by women, demonstrating a big change in a relatively short period of time.
“When you look at the countries in Europe, this is something people are thinking about and the business impact it can have,” says Brande Stellings, VP of Corporate Board Services for Catalyst, a not-for-profit that works to advance professional women in the workplace.
Catalyst’s CEO and President, Deborah Gillis, sees reason to be optimistic: “We have evidence and optimism that closing the gender gap on corporate boards is possible, yet the current number are simply not good enough.
“Companies that are not making diversity on boards a priority should be embarrassed.”
Image courtesy of flickr-user_k2space