February 13, 2020

Gender Parity in the Boardroom Won’t Happen on Its Own

By Sharon ThorneDan Konigsburg

We’re making progress, but it is too slow. That’s the key finding of the sixth edition of Deloitte Global’s Women in the Boardroom report, which found that women hold just 16.9% of board seats globally.

Yes, this number is an increase of 1.9% since 2017, but if this rate of progress holds steady, it will take more than three decades to achieve gender parity in the boardroom. Even then, actual parity is likely to be concentrated in the few countries that are making concentrated efforts to address this issue. For instance, our report found that Germany and Finland are among the countries who have driven the fastest growth in board diversity since 2017. Germany saw a 6.7% increase which is likely linked to recent gender quota legislation passed in 2015. And Finland, which issued corporate governance code recommendations and encouraged more career development programs for women, saw a 7.2% increase.

While the business case for gender diversity in the boardroom is clear, driving greater board diversity will not happen on its own. Based on our research and experience, as well as our work with boards around the world, we believe it will take concerted efforts to address the cultural barriers that prevent many women from reaching senior leadership roles and the boardroom.