Women directors talk boardroom diversity in new Deloitte report

Register now

Deloitte released the second edition of a report from the Deloitte Global Center for Corporate Governance, “Women in the boardroom: A global perspective,” which details the legislative efforts in 17 countries to encourage more women to serve on listed company boards.

"Gender balance is likely to benefit the companies that do adopt it. It is increasingly being recognized as a badge of good governance and therefore desirable. Investors should demand it. If this progress continues and disclosure targets work, then there may be no need to impose quotas," said Jane Diplock, director of Singapore Exchange Limited and Australian Financial Services Group Pty Limited.

This edition, a follow-up to the first report in January 2011, includes new research on approaches to support diversity on boards. These strategies vary strongly from country to country, but include requiring more disclosure, setting targets and implementing quotas.

"In the quest to make boards more diverse, a subject heavily discussed is whether to adopt quotas for women on listed company boards,” says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte Canada, in a statement. “This is a controversial and emotional issue that not everyone will agree on. Still, Deloitte Canada agrees with the goal of increasing the numbers of women leading and overseeing management at public companies. Deloitte's goal is to keep the discussion on this very important topic alive through ongoing analysis of the state of women on boards.”

The report offers the insights of three women directors from around the world, ranging from personal views to steps they are taking to increase boardroom diversity in their organizations.

Below, some excerpts from those comments:

"There is no hiding that men and women, even with similar educational backgrounds, often differ in their perspectives. The female perspective is neither necessarily better nor more insightful, but different. Ultimately, board diversity is about combining alternative and complementary views that in the end lead to better board decisions," said Liselott Kilaas, managing director of Aleris AS in Norway and Denmark.

"The need for critical mass in areas traditionally underrepresented — boardrooms, the C-Suite, even the Supreme Court of the United States — is critical if we expect to see systemic improvement … We all know that we are well past the time where this should be an issue … It boils down to respect, common sense, and good business," said Maggie Wilderotter, chairman and chief executive officer of Frontier Communications Corporation.

"The ongoing work of Deloitte member firms' Centers of Corporate Governance around the world provides plenty of anecdotal evidence that more diverse boards are the more effective boards," said Dan Konigsburg, managing director of the Deloitte Global Center for Corporate Governance, DTT.

This was originally published in Accounting Today, a Source Media publication.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.