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Women more likely to be on several boards than men

8 January 2020: being overboarded – or serving on more than three corporate boards – is emerging as a women’s issue. In MSCI’s Women on Boards 2019 Progress Report, 22% of women were found to be overboarded compared with 12% of men.

The latest report reviewed the board and executive management structure of 2,765 companies, constituents of the MSCI ACWI Index as of 31 October 2019. It also found:

  • Progress is still slow, but 2019 saw a noticeable uptick: 20.0% of directors were women in 2019, up from 17.9% in 2018 and 17.3% in 2017 (at the current pace, a 50/50 gender split among global directors might be reached by 2044).
  • 57.3% of the companies subject to mandatory gender quotas had exceeded requirements as of 31 October 2019.
  • The number of companies with majority female boards doubled in 2019 compared with 2018.
  • The IT sector had the steepest increase in companies with three or more female directors.
  • In emerging markets, female directors and executives were more likely to have financial expertise than their male counterparts: 47% vs 39% (in developed markets there was no significant differences in professional expertise between male and female directors).

“The research underlines the need for business to focus on succession and enabling their pipeline of female talent in order to move away from reliance on a smaller number of experienced female directors. As well as creating a diverse and inclusive culture, ICAEW’s work outlines practical ways to support individuals coming into their first board roles,” says Philippa Kelly, Head of Financial Services.

The Financial Services Faculty’s report, Information Overload: effective boards and committees in financial services has practical tips for anyone, regardless of gender, feeling overboarded.