Paul Hastings Global Report Addresses Under-representation of Women on Corporate Boards

September 12, 2011

Washington, DC -

Women are under-represented on corporate boards globally, and governments are starting to take a more concerted approach to addressing that disparity, according to the report, Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in the Boardroom, from Paul Hastings LLP, a leading global law firm. The report examines the legal and regulatory developments addressing the persistent lack of adequate representation of women in the boardroom in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Paul Hastings survey provides a unique look into the critical issues impacting womens representation on corporate boards and strategies different countries have taken to address the disparity, said Susan Ness, Senior Fellow at the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations. This topic is of growing importance to an expanding group of key stakeholders which includes: CEOs, board chairs, government officials, institutional investors, and stock exchange executives, she added.

Diversity is one of Paul Hastings core values, said Seth Zachary, chairman of Paul Hastings. We are committed to advancing women in leadership positions within the firm and throughout the corporate world, he added.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Since its beginning, the European Union has viewed gender equality with keen interest. However, despite a number of directives and recommendations starting in 2006 addressing gender equality, women in general remain under-represented on boards throughout Europe.

  • Across the pond, gender parity continues to gain attention in both Canada and the U.S., but with far less vigor.

  • While there is no existing statutory requirement that mandates equality on boards in Canada, it has become a focus of major policy issues with a number of initiatives underway to level the playing field.

  • In the U.S., although there is strong support for diversity initiatives as a whole, efforts around diversity on boards remain largely voluntary and progress has been slow.

  • Australia reports a high number of women in the workforce, but a small number of women represented in leadership roles or on boards. However, new legislative measures and more stringent disclosure requirements for listed companies have recently delivered encouraging results with a positive trend line.

  • In New Zealand, gender equality in high-ranking public positions is not equally reflected on corporate boards. Though there is a desire for change, legally mandated action or quotas are not popular options.

The report was released at The SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations conference, Global Perspectives on Women in the Boardroom, which examined the legislative, regulatory, advisory, and voluntary initiatives taken over the past year around the world to increase the proportion of women in corporate leadership.

Paul Hastings 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.



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