By: David Schrieberg
I’m happy any time I can blow the horn for Luxembourg, my adopted home. On that score, the latest Global Diversity Analysis from professional services firm Egon Zehnder that surveys women in boardrooms around the world offers a few nice notes – although the global symphony they sit within sounds a bit off-key.
First, the relatively good news. According to the study, gender parity internationally is on an upward swing in the 1,491 public companies in 44 countries they surveyed – with women occupying 19% of board seats of the largest companies, compared to 14% in 2012, and increasing a “modest” three percentage points in the past two years.
Zehnder notes that since it began tracking the issue 12 years ago “diversity is most effectively manifested in those countries where gender diversity has sparked a movement through social, cultural, regulatory, leadership or political ambition, or the simple power of persuasion.”
The highest flyers – Italy and France, among others – “have been literally transformed” as a result of government quotas, with the share of women on Italian boards increasing from 8% to 32% and in France from 21% to 38%.
My little plug for Luxembourg comes here: It ranks 7th on the list in terms of growth of boardroom diversity at about 12%. That compares with the U.S. at about 1%.
Overall, in fact, the global winner is Western Europe, where board diversity has grown from 8% in 2004 to 26% last year (compared to 18.5% globally) – with a full one-third of that in the past two years alone, indicating a notable acceleration. And nine of the top 10 countries in terms of progress over the past four years were in the region.
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