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Company boards becoming more diverse

Women are joining the boards of Europe’s largest companies in greater numbers than ever before, according to Egon Zehnder International, the global executive search firm.

The analysis shows that the share of all board seats held by women has risen by 28% in the past two years to 15.6% (from 12.2% in 2010). This is equivalent to almost half of the total progress from the baseline set in Egon Zehnder’s first analysis in 2004, when only 8.0% of board seats were held by women.

“Our statistics suggest we could be at a tipping point, with women set to fill one in four of all board roles across Europe within five years,” said Damien O’Brien, Chief Executive and Chair of Egon Zehnder International. “To sustain future growth, the key challenge for organisations will be to ensure more women rising through the executive ranks. This will not only prepare them for future board positions but will also serve as a role model and inspire the next generation of female leaders.”

The research shows that boards are simultaneously becoming more international, with a steep increase in non-national board members since 2010. In 2012 31.5% of Europe’s top companies’ board members were non-nationals, against 27.8% in 2010. International appointments in the largest companies in Europe accounted for 33% of all appointments in the past 12 months (compared with 37% of women appointments).

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