Deloitte’s Women in the Boardroom report, published in collaboration with gender diversity organisation The 30% Club, has some sobering data on the progress of women on corporate boards and in the C-suite.
Highlighting slow progress and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the careers of women, the report argues that there is some way to go before organisations acknowledge the vital role of female leadership in business.
If this rate of change were to continue, the world could expect to reach near-parity in 2045, over 20 years from now
Women on boards
The report finds that women hold 19.7% of board seats globally, a 2.8 percentage point increase from when the last report was published in 2019. Described as progress inching forward at a snail’s pace, the report argues that if this rate of change were to continue, the world could expect to reach near-parity in 2045, over 20 years from now.
Women in the C-suite
Although the percentage of women on boards has moved closer to 20%, there are fewer women in the C-suite. Female board chairs stand at 6.7% while female CEOs are even rarer – at 5% in 2021. Women in CFO roles fare better at 15.7%, up from 12.7% in 2018.
Diversity at leadership level
Diversity at the highest leadership levels matters and contributes to a balanced board. The most gender-balanced boards are found at companies led by women (33.5%) compared with those with a male CEO (19.4%). The finding is similar for companies with female chairs.
The average tenure among women directors has declined compared with men, slipping from 5.5 years in 2018 to 5.1 today. The report explains that this could be attributable to the broader range of opportunities available for experienced women who may be encouraged to leave boards earlier than men.
The report concludes that while the world continues to move forward, overall progress is slow and uneven. The pandemic has challenged progress in achieving equality, making it even more important for corporations to address the obstacles that stand in the way of women’s leadership and invest in their career trajectories.