In the past few years, a global trend has been observed in favor of supporting the professional development of women, fostering their empowerment, equal opportunities in promotions and jobs, and greater equality in remuneration. Along the same line, there is a move to drive women’s participation in executive positions and on boards of directors, positions that are still male-dominated.
A study conducted by Deloitte called "Women in the boardroom: A global perspective (2016)", which covers 60 countries and over seven thousand companies, reveals that only 15% of board members are women, reflecting a huge lack of balance, which impacts diversity and, above all, restricts the contributions women could be making from such positions, since their perspectives could differ from those of men.
According to the companies analyzed, in the Latin American region, there is not yet an average of one female board member per company. In North America, the average is more than one female board member per company, although women’s representation in the boardroom in Canada reaches an outstanding 20.5%. In the United States, S&P5OO firms have 21.2%, while the region with the greatest advancement in this issue is Europe, with figures nearer 40%, in some countries.
There is evidence that the companies in which women participate in executive positions generate a greater return in the stock market (3.5% additional compound annual growth) than those with a lower female representation (CS Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management, 2016). In the same way, studies by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveal that if Latin American countries increased women’s participation in the workforce to the average level of Nordic countries, which is 61%, the GDP per capita could be up to 10 % higher (Novta, Werner & Wong, 2016).
Even though, undoubtedly, a great deal of progress has been made in the topic of balance (for example, women worldwide have increased their level of education, participate in positions that were normally held by men and participate more in the labor market), there is still a significant gap in salaries and restricted access to senior positions.
This low level of participation in executive positions limits women’s experience in decision making at these levels, preventing them from making strategic contributions to organizations. It must be noted that to form part of a board of directors, the person must have a solid academic background and participate in board-member training programs. These elements strengthen board members’ profiles, enabling them to have a broader vision of the strategies to be triggered within the organizations in which they participate, in order to face up to major challenges in relation to innovation, cultural transformation, regulation, competition analysis, among others. The manner of addressing these challenges would, without doubt, drive or check organizations’ continuance and growth.
As a result, women have joined forces and formed diverse associations around the world that promote an greater balance and preparation to be board members. One of the first was Catalyst, founded in 1962; another is the 30% Club, created in the United Kingdom in 2010, with the objective of achieving 30% of women board members in the FTSE 100 companies. There is also the WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) foundation, which, in March 2018, opened a chapter in Mexico, led by Karen Mauch and Magdalena Canal, who actively participate in forums to encourage young women executives to forge a career through good planning. The Women’s Forum: Work Life Balance, focused on driving the development of women board members and directors in Mexico, is an example of these forums.