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Only 6% of CEOs in the world are women

June 26, 2024

Only 6% of CEOs are women worldwide, according to the 8th edition of Women in the Boardroom, a survey carried out by Deloitte, a global consulting and auditing firm. Although still a low percentage, in 2023 there was an increase of 1% compared to the previous year. “Since many companies prefer to recruit board members with CEO experience, these numbers do not paint an optimistic outlook for pipeline development. Companies need to expand their skills profiles to further diversify their boards while shoring up critical skill gaps,” the authors highlight.

The survey also shows that women occupy 23.3% of board seats worldwide – although small, the figure represents an increase of 3.6% since the last edition of the report published in 2022. Despite the progress, at this rate, the survey indicates that gender equality may not be achieved before 2038. When it comes to the number of women chairing boards, the figure is still very low: only 8.4% of the world’s boards are chaired by women.

As Hina Nagarajan, managing director and chief executive officer, United Spirits Limited, said, “In a world where consumers for most companies are moving ahead in such a fast manner, we’ve got to look at the connection with consumers, digital savviness, skill sets other than experience on boards, and we’ve got to take that leap of faith bringing the right skill sets irrespective of age, previous experience, etc. I think boards need to rethink their whole recruitment strategy.

The researchers surveyed 18,805 companies in 50 countries, finding that the culture of having more women in leadership seems to make more sense in European countries. According to the report, 5 of the top 6 countries with the highest percentage of women on boards have some kind of quota legislation, ranging from around 33% (Belgium and the Netherlands) to 40% (France, Norway and Italy).

Male chairs are making a difference

In 2016, the authors found that companies with a woman chair or CEO have boards that are nearly twice as diverse with respect to gender (~29% women on boards) as those with a male chair or CEO (~15% women on boards). However, today, while that gap still exists, it is shrinking. Companies with a woman chair are now only 1.4 times more diverse than those with male chairs (32.9% vs 22.9%, respectively). 

The numbers are nearly identical when looking at female CEOs and the number of women serving on their boards as compared to male CEOs (35.3% vs 23.0%, respectively). While there is still serious work to do, progress, regardless of the gender of the leader, is possible.

Source: Deloitte Insights