Why A Gender-balanced Boardroom Is Not Going To Happen By Itself

According to Deloitte’s ‘Global Women in the Boardroom’ report, women only hold 16.9% of board seats across the world; this is the sixth edition of the report and the most recent one. Even though there has been a 1.9 percent increase since 2017, if this same rate of increase continues, it will take over 30 years for gender parity to reach the boardroom, however, gender parity seems only to be concentrated in a few countries of the world. A Harvard Business Review report revealed that “Germany and Finland are among the countries that have driven the fastest growth in board diversity since 2017. Germany saw a 6.7% increase which is likely linked to recent gender quota legislation passed in 2015. And Finland, which issued corporate governance code recommendations and encouraged more career development programs for women, saw a 7.2% increase.”

One of the key hurdles in global gender parity has been inconsistent efforts by countries of the world

The benefits of a gender-balanced boardroom are something that is being sought-after in the corporate world and like many changes in the world today, this cannot happen all on its own and hence, it will take the cumulative efforts of boards all over the world to facilitate a transformation. In order to address cultural barriers that are preventing women from securing a place in the boardroom, there also needs to be consistency in the efforts from different parts of the world. Why? One of the key hurdles in global gender parity has been inconsistent efforts by countries of the world, however, the biggest issue is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that can be used across the board. “In some markets, gender quotas have driven greater board diversity, while other countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK have driven change through setting targets and corporate governance recommendations. The countries that seem to lag behind, though, with less than 10% of board seats occupied by women, do not have any targets or quotas in place,” reports HBR. The second barrier is that there are very few women in senior leadership roles and hence if there are so few women at this stage then, how can one expect to find a higher number of women on corporate boards. 

Homogeneity also spurs homogeneity and if there are no efforts made to ensure it changes, then diversity loses

The truth is that gender-diverse boards are more likely to appoint women in top leadership positions and if there are more women in top leadership roles, they are more likely to make it on the board. Therefore, each influences the other and as a result, it works as a symbiotic circle which means that diversity does, in fact, give birth to more diversity and this is what needs to happen in the professional world. On the other hand, this also means that homogeneity also spurs homogeneity and if there are no efforts made to ensure it changes, then diversity loses. Organizations need to focus on middle management because this is the stage where a majority of women stall in their careers. ‘ Organizations should feel empowered to challenge women in the workplace while supporting a modernized and flexible working environment where everyone can thrive, be themselves, and balance a successful career with their lives outside of work.’ There are already enough studies for organizations to know what is stopping women from reaching the top of the ladders and most of the time, it’s because of environmental factors, not because of any innate female characteristics and so companies must simply get to work on the gender-parity front; enough talking because more action needs to be taken. 

Image credit: Fortune

Related Articles