Although today 60% of new university graduates are female, women are outnumbered by men in leadership positions in the corporate sector in the EU. On average, only 20.2% of board members of the largest publicly listed companies in the EU are women. This marks a significant increase1 from 11.9% in 2010 when the European Commission first put the issue of women in leadership positions high on the political agenda. However, there is still a very long way to go if we are to achieve gender balance – a minimum of 40% of the under-represented sex on company boards.
Not taking advantage of the skills of highly qualified women constitutes a waste of talent and a loss of economic growth potential. Various studies suggest that companies with a higher representation of women at the most senior levels deliver better organisational and financial performance.
The issue has been the focus of intense public debate initiated by the European Commission. How many women and men are there in leadership positions across the Member States?
In October 2014, the average share of women on the boards of the largest publicly listed companies registered in the EU-28 Member States reached 20.2%3. This represents a rise of 1.6 percentage points since the last data collection in April 2014 (18.6%). There are only four countries – France, Latvia, Finland and Sweden – in which women account for at least a quarter of board members.
The data, collected in October 2014, cover 614 of the largest publicly listed companies from the 28 Member States of the EU (data available for 613). Information is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/gender-decision-making/database/business-finance/index_en.htm Gender balance on corporate boards.