Follow us on:
Search the Knowledge Hub

Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective – Progress inches forward at a snail’s pace





Workplace Gender Equality

Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective – Progress inches forward at a snail’s pace

Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective – Progress inches forward at a snail’s pace

The Seventh Edition of the Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective – Progress at a Snail’s Pace report by the Deloitte Global Boardroom Program includes updates from 72 countries on gender diversity in the boardroom, exploring insights on the political, social, and legislative trends behind these numbers.

The global, regional, and country analyses are based on a dataset of 10,493 companies in 51 counties – more than 176,340 directorships – spanning Asia Pacific, the Americas, and EMEA. To this data is supplemented by information on diversity quotas and other diversity initiatives.


Progress inches forward at a snail’s pace

  • The report shows progress toward increasing the number of women on corporate boards, albeit slow progress.
  • The worldwide average of women on boards now sits at 19.7%, an increase of just 2.8 percentage points since the last report, published in 2019. If this rate of change were to continue every two years, the number of women on boards would be approaching parity in 2045.
  • While this is unacceptably slow, there actually has been a slight acceleration in the pace of change. The last report showed parity being reached by 2052, meaning the timeline has been cut by a nearly a decade.

Women still shut out of top leadership positions

  • But the presence of more women does not mean they are reaching top leadership positions.
  • Although the percentage of women on boards inched closer to 20%, there are comparatively few female board chairs (6.7% now, as compared to 5.3% in the previous edition). Female CEOs are even rarer, at 5% in 2021 and 4.4% in the previous edition.
  • This reinforces the message that greater participation on boards is only a first step on a longer journey to reach positions of executive power and board leadership.

Are the same women joining all the boards?

  • One frequent criticism of quotas is that a small cohort of the same women will take on a large number of board seats.
  • The ‘stretch factor’ measures how many board seats an individual holds in a particular market. The higher the stretch factor, the more seats are held by any single director.
  • Globally, the stretch factor for women has increased slightly, from 1.26 in 2018 to 1.30 in 2021 (although this figure remains relatively unchanged from 2016, when it was 1.31).

Women occupy board seats for fewer years than men

  • There was a decline in the average tenure among women directors over the past several years, particularly in comparison to that of men.
  • Average global board tenure for women slipped from 5.5 years in the previous edition to 5.1 today, compared to the global board tenure average for men which sat at 7.6 years (8.0 years in the previous edition).


  • Women in the boardroom: A global perspective—seventh edition
    • Research methodology
    • An introduction
    • An introduction from the 30% Club
    • Executive summary
    • Global overview
    • Percentage of board seats held by women
    • A CEO’s perspective
    • Directors’ perspectives
    • An executive recruiter’s perspective
    • An investor’s perspective
  • Global index
    • North America
    • Caribbean
    • Latin and South America
    • Africa
    • Europe
    • Middle East and North Africa
    • Asia
    • Australasia
  • Appendices
  • Endnotes
  • Contacts

This report was originally published on the Deloitte website.

to top