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Deloitte Global’s Women in the Boardroom report shows rate of progress remains slow

Deloitte Global’s Women in the Boardroom: A global perspective report finds that women hold just 19.7% of board seats globally, a 2.8% increase since 2019. At this pace, the world could expect to reach near-parity in 2045, over twenty years from now.

For New Zealand the percentage is significantly higher at 31.9% but has only seen a 0.4% increase in the same time period.

“It’s great to see New Zealand’s percentage of board seats held by women amongst the top 10 in the world, albeit there remains a major opportunity to harness talent by closing a still material gap,” said Deloitte New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Horne.

The latest edition of the report includes updates from 72 countries on representation of women in the boardroom, exploring insights on the political, social, and legislative trends behind these numbers. It found that nearly countries have local organisations or governments committed to increasing the number of women on company boards. While these private and public sector efforts demonstrate steps towards achieving parity, the pace of collective progress needs to pick up.

“There has been significant work done in the past decade to increase female representation, an acknowledgment of the diversity of thought and variety of expertise women bring to the board table, which in turn allows boards to make faster and better decisions,” said Deloitte Partner and Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Sonia Breeze.

“You cannot expect to achieve diversity of thought if a board is predominantly made up of people with similar backgrounds and experience, or if an environment has not been fostered to allow diversity to be truly shared and embraced throughout the culture, focus, and operations of an organisation.”

The report also found that only 6.7% of board chairs are women (18.5% in New Zealand) and even fewer, only 5% globally and 5.9% in New Zealand, hold the CEO role. However, a positive correlation was revealed between women CEO leadership and board diversity whereby companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards than those with men as CEOs – 33.5% v 19.4%, respectively. This was also similar for companies with women as board chairs and inversely, gender-diverse board were more likely to appoint a women CEO and/or board chair.

Also identified in the report is Deloitte Global’s Stretch Factor metric which examines how many board seats an individual holds in a particular market. The higher the stretch factor, the greater the number of board seats the same director occupies in a market. Countries with the highest Stretch Factor for women – Australia (1.43), the US (1.33) and New Zealand (1.32) – have all avoided implanting quotas in favour of voluntary approaches. Meanwhile, European countries which were early adopters of quotas have much lower Stretch Factors for women directors, some even equal to that of men globally.

“While efforts have predominantly focused on women to champion diversity at the board level, true diversity is about having perspectives that reflect a mix of ethnic backgrounds, LGBTQIA+ affinity, age, culture, knowledge, and experience.

“Having a truly diverse board has been shown to improve both business performance and innovation, and it’s important that we continue working to identify a broad mix of up-and-coming talent and help build their capabilities to sit on the boards of the future,” said Mr Horne.

Read the full report, Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective, at