Quotas may produce more women at board level, but are not enough to keep them there, according to research.
The study, commissioned by BNY Mellon and Newton Investment Management explored more than 1,000 companies and found that board tenures for women were unlikely to last as long as their male peers, even in countries with greater gender equality.
The research examined companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list across 41 countries throughout a ten-year period and looked at the impact of economic, cultural, political and legislative factors.
The study shows no evident divide between developed and developing countries but that gender equality, humane orientation and assertiveness within the culture of the country was more important than quotas.
Commenting on the results of the study, Sue O’Brien, CEO of executive search firm, Norman Broadbent says: “Equality will come through nurturing talented women in the earlier stages of their career; boards must work on counteracting the loss of females in the executive pipeline and invest in female staff at chair and executive level. Equality won’t come by forcing companies to put women into executive and non-executive roles, instead this makes the appointments come across as tokenism.
“Ultimately, all firms need to realise that diversity is not only a key component of good corporate governance, but also of successful business. Every board needs to have the right balance of skills, experience, independence and knowledge. The key here is to be brave and ambitious. If firms aim high in this process and appoint those who are most able to add value to the company, business success will follow.”
In countries with higher gender equality women were identified to be more likely to gain positions on boards. Yet it had little effect on the length of their board tenure.
Conversely, in countries where assertive or aggressive behaviour is high, female board recruitment was more difficult, but increased the likelihood that women board members stayed in their roles for longer.
Good maternity and paternity benefits, including flexible hours and the right to return to work, were also found to be a significant factor for women board members.
Australia, Norway and Denmark are ranked as the top performing countries for female leaders, however, Saudi Arabia, India and United Arab Emirates are amongst the lowest.
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