Rising numbers of female executives and board members across Europe

Although the pace of change is slow female representation on European boards and executive committees at 220 organisations across 11 sectors is growing, according to the latest research from think-tank New Financial.

The percentage of women on boards has increased three percentage points to 23% compared to a year ago, and female representation on executive committees has risen by one percentage point to 16% across the industry. Nearly half (47%) of the companies in New Financial’s sample have increased female representation on their boards since its first report in 2014, and a third (34%) of executive committees have also seen their female members increase.

The research found there are large gaps between the numbers of women on boards and the number on executive committees. In the banking sector it was found that the  average female representation on boards of 32% is nearly triple the levels on executive committees of just 12%. This also reflects that on boards it was found that, the proportion of female non-executive directors (24%) is nearly twice that of executive directors (13%).

There are also large differences between the level of female representation in different types of organsiation. F or example, average female representation on excutive committees is lowest at 7% for private equity, rising to 30% for trade bodies.

Where women sit on executive committees, New Financial found that they tend to be in support roles rather than be the top executives or head of revenue generating functions. Nearly two thirds of heads of communications (64%) and more than half of heads of human resources (58%) on executive committees were women, but only 12% of heads of a division or region are female, and just 11% are the top executives, according to its analysis.

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