Share of Women on Boards Slightly Down

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – Since 2003 AP2 has conducted an annual survey to determine the proportion of women at middle management level, in executive positions and on the boards of listed companies. Now, AP2’s Female Representation Index 2024 shows that representation of women among Nasdaq OMX Stockholm companies has decreased at the board level but increased at management level. However, this seems to depend on the specific sectors the company operates in as well as its governance arrangements. Evidence suggest that there has been a significant improvement in representation since the survey was first conducted.

    “Diversity is an important issue for the Fund and is one of five focus areas within sustainability. The Fund’s starting point is that companies that work with diversity, equity and inclusion not only take sustainability issues very seriously but are also more competitive and thus create better value,” says Eva Halvarsson, CEO of AP2.

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    Board Representation Fall, but increases in Management

    The figures for 2024 show that the proportion of female board members in Swedish listed companies listed on Nasdaq has decreased in the past year to 35.5%, from 36.1% in 2023 and on par with 2022 at 35.4%.

    “We have seen steady growth in the proportion of female board members since we introduced the Female Index in 2003. Unfortunately, the increase has leveled off in recent years and this year it is decreasing somewhat. The companies have some way to go to reach the goal of 40 per cent women on the boards,” Halvarsson adds.

    The proportion of women in listed companies’ management teams, on the other hand, increases from 26.4% to 28.8%, which is the highest level measured since the survey started in 2003.

    “It is gratifying that our Female Index shows that the proportion of women in management continues to increase, which is an important factor for there to be a good recruitment base for female board members in the future,” Halvarsson continues.

    The survey for 2024 included 356 primary and secondary listed companies on Nasdaq OMX Stockholm. In addition, the survey records the proportion of women who have graduated from study programmes that constitute the traditional recruitment base for management groups and boards. 2024 is the second time AP2 compiles the Female Representation Index internally, based on data from the ownership service Holdings.

    Two Decades of Increased Representation

    During the last ten-year period, the share of women both on the boards of listed companies and in the management teams has increased by approximately one percentage point per year. During the period, the proportion of women on boards has increased by 10.8 percentage points, but the trend levelled off during the second half of the period. The proportion of women in management teams has increased by 10.4 percentage points, and it continues to increase at a steady pace even in the later years of the survey.

    In 2015, the Swedish Corporate Governance Board targetted a 40% combined board representation for women. The companies have some way to go to reach this goal. Only 41% of the companies meet this goal, which is a decrease from 43% in 2023. The survey also shows that women make up 38.3% of newly elected board members, which is a higher percentage than in existing boards. However, it is noted that the target of 40% will not be reached at this rate of change.

    Of the 356 companies examined in AP2’s Female Representation Index 2024, the number of female board chairpersons decreased from 34 to 32, equivalent to 9% of the companies. The number of women CEOs is also decreasing, 42 (45). The proportion of companies with a female CEO thus amounts to 11.8%.

    Drivers of Representation

    There appear to be important sectoral differences in the representation of women. The largest proportion of female board members can be found this year in the Finance and Telecom & Media industries, 39.6% and 39.5%, respectively. The industries Materials and Consumer discretionary are at the bottom with less than 30%. In the management groups, the proportion of women is greatest in the Real Estate, Healthcare and Services industries, while the lowest proportion is found in Telecom & Media and Energy & Environment, where only one in five people in the management groups are women.

    Governance arrangements also seem to play a role.The survey shows that companies with nomination committees have a higher proportion of women on the board than companies without a nomination committee. Companies whose nomination committees have female representation also have an average of five percentage points higher proportion of female board members compared to all-male nomination committees. At the same time, half of all nomination committees lack a female representative.

    Image courtesy of Werner Heiber from Pixabay
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