(September 19, 2012) - An increasing variety of creative approaches by government, non-profit and industry groups have been used to increase the number of women on corporate boards, according to the report, Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in the Boardroom,
from Paul Hastings LLP, a leading global law firm. The second edition of the report examines the legislative, regulatory and private sector developments promoting gender parity on corporate boards in 30 jurisdictions.
"The issue of gender parity on corporate boards is gaining increasing attention and priority in a number of countries. In some, work must first be done to establish stronger rights for women and challenge historical societal norms," Paul Hastings Litigation partner Tara Giunta said. Advocates are using a variety of strategies to address the issue given the local context and dynamics. One of the more effective and discrete approaches is to utilize corporate governance codes and listing rules to impose mandates or at least put pressure on public companies to address the issue.
Key findings of the report include:
- The European Union launched a number of initiatives to encourage gender diversity on corporate boards and has called on companies listed in the European Union to introduce specific measures to enhance representation of women on boards by March 2012. Thus far, the proportion of women serving on corporate boards in Frances CAC 40 listed companies increased from 15 percent in 2010 to 23.5 percent in June 2012 following a new quota.
- The United States and Canada have had marginal growth in the number of women board members. The growth is largely driven by the efforts of investor and advocacy groups. Thus far, the federal government and regulatory bodies do not appear inclined to take more assertive steps to increase diversity.
- Australia has reported a dramatic increase in womens representation on boards due to corporate governance code amendments that impose disclosure requirements for all listed companies.
- South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil are taking preliminary steps to address gender parity on corporate boards, through legislation and case law.
- With the exception of the Philippines and South Africa, the percentage of women on corporate boards is low in Asia and Africa; however, governments have initiated specific legislation to increase gender equality in boardrooms.
Paul Hastings LLP is a leading global law firm with offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States. We provide innovative legal solutions to financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies. Please visit www.paulhastings.com for more information.