Female Board Membership on the Rise

The representation of women on boards increased globally from 18% in 2021 to 22% in 2023, according to research by BNP Paribas Asset Management (BNPP AM). France led the pack, with 45% of board seats being held by women. The most significant changes occurred in Asia, where female board representation grew from 12% in 2022 to 14% in 2023. However, parity was far from achieved in Asia – particularly in Japan, where only 11% of board seats were held by women. In North America, the US had 24% of female board directors. “Gender diversity on US boards has steadily improved in recent years, although it does not yet meet our standard,” said Johanna Lasker, CEO of BNPP AM, US. “Just over half the US population is female. Low director refreshment rates, outdated recruitment methods and an aversion to setting quotas [in the US] – or even targets – contribute to the situation.” It’s not just about setting the right tone and advancing equity in the workplace, Lasker explained – it is also about effective risk management. “If boards are truly seeing the best and brightest, they should be gender-balanced,” she added. Since 2019, BNPP AM has had a policy to vote against boards of directors with less than 35% of women across Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and with less than 20% in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. In 2023, the firm rejected 48% of board of directors’ elections on grounds of gender parity.

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