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#WomenLeaders: A focus on gender diversity

Elena Philipova
Elena Philipova
Global Head ESG Proposition, Refinitiv

To mark International Women’s Day, Refinitiv has analyzed two key gender diversity metrics on our ESG database. What do the trends in female board and executive roles reveal about corporate progress on inclusive growth and #SustainableLeadership?


  1. Gender diversity metrics from Refinitiv’s ESG database show that women still only represent 19 percent of total board membership.
  2. Europe ranks top of the regions for board member gender diversity, but second from last when it comes to executive membership gender diversity.
  3. The theme for International Women’s Day on 8 March is #EachforEqual, reflecting that an equal world is an enabled world.

The commitment of the financial industry towards gender diversity and equality is gaining momentum. For example, Goldman Sachs announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos that it would only carry out IPOs for companies with at least one woman or non-white board member.

But is corporate behavior changing fast enough, particularly when our latest figures show that women still only represent 19 percent of total board membership?

Average percentage of women on the board: The regional view. #WomenLeaders: A focus on gender diversity

The findings of Refinitiv’s International Women’s Day ESG report show that the global workplace is still a long way short of achieving 40-40-20 gender parity, which is where senior leadership teams are made up of 40 percent men, 40 percent women and 20 percent of any gender.

This closely aligns with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the blueprint’s #5 goal for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.

International Women's Day 2020. Corporate Gender Diversity Crisis. #WomenLeaders: A focus on gender diversity

Download the report for the full analysis

The theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual, but this is a campaign for more than just one day.

Gender diversity progress

Explaining its decision on IPOs, Goldman Sachs said that companies with greater diversity performed better in the markets.

Those with at least one diverse board member saw a 44 percent jump in their average share price within a year of going public, versus 13 percent at companies with no diverse board members.

Our own report using ESG data highlights how far companies have gone towards gender diversity in the workplace:

  • Females represent 19 percent of board members — a 43 percent increase over five years.
  • Europe is leading the charge on board diversity from a gender perspective, 28 percent of board members being female.
  • Females represent 14 percent of executive membership, a 20 percent increase over five years.
  • Europe ranks top of the regions for board member gender diversity but second from last for executive member gender diversity.
  • Despite improvements in gender diversity across board and executive levels, there are still a large proportion of companies who don’t have any female representation at these levels — 48 percent with no women on the board and 78 percent with no women in executive positions.
  • The top 50 percent of companies based on gender board and executive member diversity in the S&P 500, STOXX 600 and ASX 200 all performed better on price/return performance than the full benchmark.

Analysis in Refinitiv Eikon reveals that price/return performance is affected positively by the proportion of women in senior positions. #WomenLeaders: A focus on gender diversity

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