Regarding the presence of women on corporate boards, progress is progress, even incrementally. The percentage of companies with no female directors has fallen below 40 percent for the first time to 39.8 percent. Also for the first time, women hold more than one in ten board seats globally, a 0.7 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of companies with at least three women directors has risen by 1.3 percentage points to 9.8 percent of companies worldwide. Still, that means that less than a tenth of companies have three or more female directors.
This according to the 2012 Women on Boards survey conducted by GMI of 4,300 companies in 45 countries.
Women are better represented on corporate boards in industrialized countries, where 11 percent of directors are women, compared to 7 percent in emerging markets. Sixty-three percent of companies in industrialized nations have at least one female director vs. 44 percent of companies in emerging markets.
Of the industrialized countries, Norway leads the way in female board representation. Thirty-six percent of its directors are women. In comparison, Italy has only 4.5 percent and Japan only 1.1 percent. The United States has 11.1 percent.
The first issue of Forbes was dedicated to women in business. Its founder, B.C. Forbes, predicted that women “will soon sit on boards besides men,” the magazine recalled recently. That was 1917. This is now, when the so-called “good-old-boys network” is firmly entrenched. But another 2012 survey conducted by CTPartners, an executive search firm, also found signs of progress and opportunities for women.
An unprecedented number of women, the survey found, are leading Fortune 1000 companies, boards and board committees. The survey counted 38 women CEOS of Fortune 1000 companies, 23 women chairpersons, 11 of whom also hold the title of CEO for their company, and 12 additional non-CEO chairs. But there are 129 Fortune 1000 boards with no female directors.
But space may be opening up. The CTPartners survey found that more than 1,100 directors serving on fortune 100 boards are over 70 years-old. “Demand is emerging for a new generation of directors, one which will include individuals capable of contributing new insights….The goal is to create a boardroom with diverse perspectives, which leads to better-informed discussions and more effective decision making.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.