NEW YORK (January 13, 2015)— As the call for gender equality on boards grows worldwide, Catalyst today released its first global census on women board directors. Conducted in partnership with The Data Morphosis Group, the 2014 Catalyst Census: Women Board Directors focuses on women’s share of board seats at stock market index companies across three regions and 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, Europe (14 countries), and Asia-Pacific (Australia, Hong Kong, India, and Japan).

Among the findings:

  • North America: Women hold 20.8% of S&P/TSX 60 board seats in Canada; and 19.2% of S&P 500 board seats in the United States.
  • Europe: Women’s share of board seats ranges from 35.5% in Norway (OBX index) to 22.8% in the United Kingdom (FTSE 100 index) to 18.5% in Germany (DAX index) to only 7.9% in Portugal (PSI-20 index).
  • Asia-Pacific: Women’s share of board seats ranges from 19.2% in Australia (S&P/ASX 200 index) to 9.5% in India (BSE 200 index) to only 3.1% in Japan (TOPIX Core 30 index).

“While the Canadian numbers are not yet where we want them to be, especially compared to Europe, we are encouraged by the momentum we’re seeing in this country, especially the recently-passed amendments to securities law requiring disclosure of women on boards and in senior management,” says Alex Johnston, Executive Director, Catalyst Canada. “It’s critical that corporate Canada taps into the full pool of smart, talented people to stay competitive and strengthen our country’s economic future, and it can only do that by embracing gender diversity.”

“We have evidence and optimism that closing the gender gap on corporate boards is possible, yet the current numbers are simply not good enough,” says Deborah Gillis, President & CEO, Catalyst. “Companies that are not making diversity on boards a priority should be embarrassed. Smart leaders know that they can either lead the movement toward making profound and lasting impact, or be left behind. The way of the past is not the way of the future.”

Diverse boards strengthen a company’s talent pipeline, and are correlated with more women Corporate Officers, increased financial performance, more innovation, and higher group performance. This we know. Research also shows a clear link between diversity and corporate social responsibility, and this is evidenced again in Catalyst’s new report, Companies Behaving Responsibly: Gender Diversity on Boards, which further highlights that what’s good for women is good for men, business, communities, and indeed, good for the world.

The good news? Catalyst sees more leaders stepping up and successfully taking intentional action to disrupt the status quo and ensure that women have a seat at the table.

Click here to download the full 2014 Catalyst Census!

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