A recent report by the Central Chamber of Commerce in Finland shows that almost half of the boards of listed companies now have a balanced gender distribution, and around 30% of executive management teams have an equal representation of men and women. Although these figures indicate progress, there is still room for improvement, according to the Chamber's leading expert, Ville Kajala. Kajala reminds us on International Women's Day that increasing the proportion of women in leadership roles requires diversity to be taken into account in the selection of board members and the recruitment of executive team members.
The Central Chamber of Commerce has been monitoring the number of women on the boards of listed companies for several years, based on the composition of boards appointed at general meetings of shareholders. When looking at the statistics for 2022 and all listed companies, almost half of the companies already meet the target of gender equality.
Out of the 130 listed companies surveyed, only 16 would have been outside the scope of the EU's quota directive, which will take effect in 2026. Just over half of the companies that fall under the directive already meet the target of equal representation of men and women on boards and in supervisory boards, as proposed in the directive.
"In Finland, women's leadership has been successfully promoted through self-regulation. Alongside this, a climate must increasingly be created that encourages women to advance in their careers. It is important for companies to pay attention to women's career paths so that they more frequently lead to business leadership positions and CEO roles instead of support functions," says Ville Kajala, the Central Chamber of Commerce's leading expert.
The increase in the proportion of women on boards can be attributed, among other things, to the recommendation of the Corporate Governance Code, which stipulates that the board of a listed company should include both genders. If a listed company does not follow this recommendation, it must justify the deviation publicly.
According to the Central Chamber of Commerce's report, the gender balance of the body responsible for preparing the proposal for the board's composition also matters.
"The survey revealed clear differences. In companies where the proposal for the board's composition was prepared by a nomination committee of shareholders, and the committee included at least one woman, women accounted for as much as 40% of board members. When the nomination committee consisted only of men, the proportion of women on boards was 31%," says Kajala.
A balanced gender distribution in executive management teams is achieved in around 30% of listed companies. Equal representation of men and women in an executive team is said to be achieved when the less represented gender accounts for at least 40% of the team.
The report's findings indicate that progress has been made, but there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in leadership positions. More attention should be paid to diversity in selecting board members and recruiting executive team members. As Ville Kajala emphasized on International Women's Day, a supportive environment for women is crucial for women's advancement in their careers.
Nearly half of board seats in Finnish listed companies filled by women, but more progress needed
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