Women in Business and Women on Boards

26th Feb , 2016

The case for greater board and senior business position diversity could not be clearer. Well-managed, diverse teams are more productive, more innovative, and have higher collective intelligence than homogenous teams. Gradually women in business and women on boards of directors have increased their representation over the past few years.

The signs are encouraging, and globally, women have significantly increased their representation on boards. 

  • In Norway and Iceland the number of women on boards is 40%
  • Sweden and Finland have 27%.
  • France has 18%
  • Australia ASX200 has 17.6%
  • In China, the number of women in senior executive positions has increased from 25% to 51% in just 12 months.  This amazing statistic confirms a major shift in China’s corporate and cultural policies.
  • By comparison Japan only has 7% of executives as women.
  • The UK now aiming to increase female representation in the FTSE100 firms to 25% by 2015.

Although Europe’s biggest economy has a female leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel, women are under-represented in business life. In Germany more than 100 listed German companies will be required to allocate 30% of seats on their non-executive boards to women, under planned new laws which were dismissed by critics as tokenism.

In Australia the latest percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is only 17.6% (14 February 2014). This is the highest representation we have ever seen, but there is still a way to go.

However in the Not For Profit, University and Government sectors women have much better representation on boards and senior committees.

It is hoped that women will continue to be better recognised for their abilities and contribution to executive roles and as directors.

With the growth in women finishing their corporate careers, this will increase the need for greater opportunities beyond. These experienced and ambitious women from business or large organisations can significantly contribute by starting their own businesses or joining boards.

Various organisations and institutes around the world including in Australia are fully aware that there is a shift in the acceptance and encouragement for companies to have women on boards.

Many organisations have programs in place to assist women find suitable board positions. However it is important for boards to support their fellow board members men and women who are new to their role.

Boards can provide confidential support and board development for their new board members with a well-matched International Business Mentor. The Mentor can act as a sounding board and help these newer directors to reframe their board perspective and to increase their contribution to their boards in the future.

Chris Cartney

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