Governance

Another strong increase of female board members

September 4, 2020 | 2 min read
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After years of stagnation and even deterioration, for the second year in a row, one out of four board members is a woman. That means the percentage of women on listed company boards has now risen from 8.5% to 12.5%. All the same, seventy companies without any women on their executive boards appointed seventeen new male board members. These are the findings of the Dutch Female Board Index 2020 compiled by Mijntje Lückerath-Rovers, professor of Corporate Governance at TIAS School for Business and Society.

Compared to last year, the annual Index shows a rise in percentages of female executive and supervisory board members for all 94 Dutch listed companies. The percentage of female supervisory board members rose from 26.8% to 29.5%. Out of 94 listed companies, there are now 51 that meet the proposed legal quota of one-third women. In 2019, only 30 managed to meet this quota. The other 43 companies that fail to meet the quota will need to appoint 54 women altogether.

Legal quota

In early 2020, the cabinet approved a recommendation by the Social Economic Council to establish a 30% legal gender quota, applying to executive boards only. The draft bill has been submitted to the Council of State for consideration. It is noteworthy that the chosen quota has been set to a minimum of 33%, not 30%. No explanation is provided. Lückerath-Rovers: “Though the difference may seem insignificant, it will definitely have an impact on some companies. Besides, it doesn’t match the original recommendation by the Social Economic Council, nor does it align with the 30% target quota for large public limited companies.”

Differences between stock market segments

There are major differences between the four stock market segments; AEX, AMX, AScX and local companies. The 21 AEX funds reveal the best performance for both executive and supervisory boards, with 19% and 38% women respectively. While the 22 small caps (AScX) are mainly lacking in female executives (6%), at the 30 local companies, supervisory boards are doing worst (18%). Lückerath-Rovers: “AEX funds are the most vulnerable to shareholder pressure, as well as being more in the public eye. They were the first to start appointing more women. After Eumedion, the institutional investors’ association, declared diversity a priority last year, female appointments began to rise. The AScX and local companies are less in the spotlight, feel less involved and require stronger encouragement.”

Best-performing companies

At the moment, there are fifteen enterprises where both the executive and supervisory boards feature more than 33% women. Nedap and ASR take the lead, with women holding half the seats on both boards. They are followed by WoltersKluwer and PostNL, with an equally proportioned executive board and 43% women on their supervisory board. Final place goes to the originally American Envipco with a total of eight directors, none of them women. This despite the fact that they appointed three new (male) board members this year. FlowTraders, which placed last in the previous year, did appoint their first female executive this year, though there are still no women on the supervisory board.

Please see the Female Board Index for the full report.

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