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

The 2021 Gender 3000 report provides an updated universe of companies and analyzes 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 analyzes 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.

The number of female CEOs globally has increased by 27% though they still only account for 5.5% of the total. The number of CFOs who are women has increased by 17% and now account for 16% of all CFO positions globally.

At 6.7%, Europe has the highest percentage of women as CEOs and has also seen the largest increase since 2019. However, the proportion in Asia ex Japan continues to track higher at 6.2%, while that of the USA stands at 5.6%. At the CFO level, women are particularly well represented in APAC ex Japan. Women in the region are approaching a quarter of CFOs, well ahead of Europe and the USA.

The Gender 3000 “diversity premium”

While not asserting causality, previous Gender 3000 reports outlined a correlation between greater gender diverse companies and superior corporate and share price outperformance, or a diversity premium. The study finds this still holds true with 200 basis points of alpha generated by those companies displaying gender diversity above the average vs those below. ESG scores are also superior. Furthermore, the latest report highlights that the best-performing companies display superior diversity in both the boardroom and the C-Suite.