Share article:

    Few women become chairs of boards of directors

    © Belga
    The IEFH’s study raises significant issues on the appointment of women to boards of directors and management committees.
    © Belga

    Women are earning their place on boards of directors of large companies, but they very rarely become the chair of such organisations. The Institute for Gender Equality (the “IEFH”) reported the position on Monday. The Institute has assessed the application of the 2011 “Quota Law” which prohibits the boards of Belgian Stock Exchange-quoted companies, autonomous state-owned companies and the National Lottery from having more than two-thirds of its directors of the same sex.

    Between 2008 and 2017, the proportion of women on the board of directors of companies targeted shot up from 8.2% to 26.8%. However, they struggle to reach the highest position in the company – Chair of the board. Out of the 115 companies analysed by the Institute, only five (4.3%) in 2017 appointed a female Chairperson to their board.

    Besides the make-up of boards of directors, the IEFH also looked into management committees, which are not subject to gender quotas. The objective was to compare their position to boards of directors but also to determine whether the development of boards of directors has any influence on that of management committees. Some 39 of the companies studied had such management committees.

    In 2017, only 18% of members of management committees were comprised of women. Although this proportion has doubled compared to 2008, we have to observe that female presence on management committees remains low. Moreover, two-thirds of management committees were either exclusively male or only had one woman. The number of committees without a woman has however decreased, going from 20 in 2008 to 14 in 2017. Within the same time period, those comprising one or more women went from 2 to 13.

    The Institute reports that for private quoted companies, the representation of women is even lower (17.7%) and is evolving very slowly. Lastly, although women barely achieve the position of Chairperson of the board of directors, the assessment is hardly more glowing for the management committees of companies analysed: of 39 having an official management committee, only two were under the direction of a woman (5.1%).

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times