Slow progress increasing women on corporate boards, MSCI report

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Silhouette of businesswoman stand and look far away in Hong Kong, Asia. elwynn © / 123RF Stock Photos Progress increasing women on corporate boards in 2018 has been slow, with women holding 17.9 per cent of all directorships at MSCI ACWI index companies as of Oct. 16, 2018, up incrementally from 17.3 per cent in 2017, according to an MSCI Inc. progress report on women on corporate boards.

Among MSCI world index companies, women held 21.6 per cent of directorships, up from 20.4 per cent.

Among MSCI emerging markets index companies, women held 11.2 per cent of board seats, up from 10.2 per cent.

Part of this increase, particularly in the emerging markets index, is tied to the inclusion of China A-shares, according to the report. “The inclusion of the companies in the China A-shares universe has resulted in a large increase in the absolute numbers of women directorships, especially in the MSCI emerging markets index; however, the overall proportion of women directors saw only an incremental increase.”

That said, the report found the majority of MSCI ACWI Index companies with at least three female board directors continued to be based in developed markets, whereas most all-male boards were in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

The presence of three female board members is significant as several research studies consider three seats as a critical mass needed to enable female directors to participate more equally and have influence relative to male peers, the report said.

“We have updated our projections of how long it could take to reach 30 per cent female representation among corporate directors,” noted the report in reference to MSCI ACWI Index companies. “At current trends, the 30 per cent tipping point will not be reached until 2029 despite the increase in global focus and advocacy in recent years. This is two years later than we projected as part of a business-as-usual scenario in 2015.”

 

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