How to Increase Gender Balance in Boardrooms

Research shows that increasing women’s representation on corporate boards improves business outcomes in multiple ways, ranging from increased revenues and profits to strengthened ESG performances. Nevertheless, progress has been alarmingly slow. In 2018, women held approximately 17% of all corporate board seats worldwide and 20% of Fortune Global 200 companies have all-male boards. The Target Gender Equality programme of the UN Global Compact calls for all companies to set and meet ambitious targets for women’s representation and leadership, including at the board level. During this session, leading experts answer your questions on how to move from commitment to action and break down the barriers that women face in accessing leadership roles and board seats in the private sector.

During this session, you will learn:

-Why board diversity is critical to business performance and sustainability

-How to set, meet and stay accountable to ambitious targets

-How increased government and investor expectations, as well as stock exchange listing requirements, are incentivizing business to prioritize board diversity

-Diverse examples of strategies that companies have adopted to secure parity on boards and ensure that women’s perspectives are equally valued in decision-making

Speakers Include:

Moderator: Melsa Ararat, Board Member, Global Compact Network Turkey; Director, Sabanci University Corporate Governance Forum; Global Advisory Board Member, 30% Club 

  • Ann Dennison, Senior Vice President and incoming CFO, Nasdaq
  • Irene Natividad, Chair, Corporate Women Directors International
  • Jeremy Awori, CEO, Absa Bank Kenya
  • Loty Salazar, Lead, Women on Boards and in Business Leadership, IFC

What we learned: 

  • The business case for women's representation and leadership, including at the board level, is well established. The inclusion of women's perspectives, skills, talents and innovations supports both financial and non-financial performance.
  • Companies looking to advance women's representation and leadership at the board level need to consider both demand-side barriers (ex. resistance to changing the status quo) and supply-side barriers (ex. pipeline of board-ready women) and take deliberate and intentional action to address challenges most relevant for their organization. 
  • Women's representation in decision-making roles across all sectors is essential to effectively respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses, governments, investors, stock exchanges and others all have a role to play and must work together to raise the bar and increase accountability for progress. 

Recommended Resources and Engagement Opportunities 

Building Inclusive Boards to Achieve Gender Equality (WEPs)

Trailblazers - Portraits of Female Business Leadership in Emerging and Frontier Markets (IFC) 

A Global Look at Board Diversity (CWDI) 

Women in Business Leadership Boost ESG Performance

Learn more about the Target Gender Equality Initiative here

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