European firms improve diversity scores in pandemic year, study finds
The number of major European companies with high participation of women in leadership positions has doubled over the past year, but there was less progress on top jobs, a study by a EU-sponsored non-profit organization showed on Thursday.
Brussels-based association European Women on Boards, which analysed 668 Europe’s top listed companies included in the STOXX 600 index and national benchmarks, said the number of those with high scores on its Gender Diversity Index rose to 62 from 32 in 2019.
It defined as high score index readings of 0.8 and above where zero means no women on company boards and in other senior management positions and 1 is the ideal value with a 50% representation.
Women made up just over a third of the analysed companies’ boards, but held only 14% of “C-suite” jobs, such as chief executive, chief operating or finance officer. Only 6% of companies had female CEOs, the association said, though that marked an improvement from 4.7% in 2019.
The study said women were hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic, suffering higher unemployment and greater stress juggling work and family, but did not discuss its impact on the gender diversity scores.
The United Nations has set a 2030 goal for achieving gender equality and several EU countries, including its largest member Germany, have laws promoting it. Still, one report estimated that at current path, the bloc was at least 60 years away from accomplishing that goal.
Companies from Norway, France, Britain, Finland and Sweden led the rankings, with Switzerland and newly represented Poland at the bottom of the table.
Three real state companies added to the STOXX 600 index in 2020, British groups Assura and Grainger, and Sweden’s Wihlborgs Fastigheter AB, led with a perfect score.
Six of the tracked companies had no women on their boards, executive boards or committees, including two from Germany – Nemetschek and Rational – the study showed.
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