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The struggle continues for more boardroom diversity

The annual GMI Ratings 2012 Women on Boards survey, published on March 8, shows slow but positive progress towards board diversity, with 10.5 per cent of board seats worldwide occupied by women (up 0.7 percentage points from last year). The survey provides the most comprehensive analysis of women’s participation in company boards internationally, taking records from 4,300 companies in 45 countries. A total of 60.2 per cent of companies in the survey have at least one female director and 9.8 per cent have three or more women on their boards. There is nothing homogenous about the global picture, however, and differences between countries and companies remain significant. The effect of varying degrees of legislative pressure is marked: Norway’s boards are 36.3 per cent female, while Germany’s comprise just 12.9 per cent. The countries that show the largest increase of female participation at board level over the last year – France and Australia – have been nudged into action via legislation (France) or a beefed-up “comply or explain” governance code (Australia)...The...[S]urvey presents, by definition, a broad-brush picture...Countries whose governments have intervened with quotas or the threat of compulsory legislation show the most rapid progress, while nations that may be thought of as highly developed do not necessarily match economic maturity with any significant progress towards corporate diversity.