Lack of women in boardrooms due partly to resistance, survey finds

When will diversity get enough seats in the boardroom? Ahead of International Women’s Day, Campaign partnered with R3’s Women of the World network in a wide-ranging gender-disparity survey.

There is a lack of racial and gender diversity in boardrooms today as most organisations require previous board experience or are resistant to change, R3’s has found.

53.8% of women said the onboarding of more women and minorities is prevented by a lack of board experience, according to a survey commissioned by R3’s Women of the World network and Campaign Asia-Pacific

In addition, 51.3% of women polled said that the boardroom culture is not inclusive enough to attract women and minorities.

When asked what is preventing boards from improving racial and gender inclusion at companies, 53.8% of women said that boards have a lack of understanding of the benefits of diversity. Furthermore, 48.7% said that boards are resistant to change.

"With our current low representation of women in board; there’s naturally a small pool of talent with prior board experience," said Shufen Goh, co-founder and principal of R3, and president of AAMS.
"Just like companies don’t just hire CEOs with prior experience, we should consider better alternative criteria and introduce board certification and induction as part of the process. There should also be a cap on how many boards an executive can sit on to ensure effective governance control."
Nearly 40 women who were part of R3’s Women of the World network participated in the survey.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • 74.4% feel women are under-represented at events because of the daily workload, which takes priority over personal and industry development.
  • Encouragement from mentors will go a long way in enabling women to attend events, according to 75.7% of respondents.
  • 76.9% of respondents say they need most need support in leadership development.
  • 55.3% feel time is a factor when having meaningful mentorship in their companies.
  • Having a supportive network is the reason why women need mentors at every stage of their careers, according to 84.6% of respondents.
  • 92.3% of respondents agree that flexible work arrangements provide the most support for working mothers.

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