A new study by Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) looks at the boards of directors of the world’s largest banks and financial services institutions. It finds that women account for 33.8% of directors serving on the boards of the largest banks and financial services companies in Europe; the Americas average 28.9% and Asia-Pacific 12%.


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Overall, women directors at the largest financial institutions in the world average 24%. While this is an impressive leap from the 2005 CWDI survey, when women’s board representation in this sector was only 10.3%, there is a way to go to reach equality.

These numbers aren’t good enough,” said Irene Natividad, chair of the CWDI, “at the current pace, women will not have parity with men in these large financial institutions until 2036. Progress in Europe was possible due to proactive steps taken to increase women’s access to board seats.

Susie Cummings, CEO and founder of Nurole, is thrilled that Nurole’s latest figures on female financial services board placements far exceed the industry average. “Nurole has played a huge role in levelling the playing field and in so doing increasing gender diversity in financial institutions all around the world,” she said. “In the last twelve months, of the 30 board placements Nurole has enabled in financial services alone, 16 or 53% have gone to women, more than doubling the 24% industry average reported in the CWDI survey."

The power of the Nurole network and our member recommendations is that it bypasses the cognitive bias of the intermediary in the initial outreach to prospective candidates. We’ve created a process where individuals are empowered to put themselves forward, rather than being reliant on the traditional ‘tap-on-the-shoulder’ headhunter model on its own. Our results speak for themselves.

Gender quotas

Financial institutions in countries with quotas average a higher percentage of female directors, 36% compared to the 24% industry average. Several European countries have included gender diversity as a principle in their corporate governance codes, these countries have more women directors too, averaging 32%.

Female-led banks

Those banks led or chaired by women were also found to have a higher than average proportion of women on their boards, these banks include America’s Progressive Insurance, Royal Bank of Canada, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group and Spain’s Banco Santander. These female-led institutions had an average of 34% female-led directors. These results echoed a 2012 CWDI study on women CEOs, which found that women-led companies globally tend to have more women on their boards and in senior management than peer companies.



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