Added Perspective

Women on Boards: Progress Report 2021

March 8, 2022

By Christina Milhomem, MSCI

MSCI ESG Research has been tracking and reporting on board gender diversity since 2009. In this annual Progress Report we provide an overview of gender diversity changes across all 2,887 constituents of the MSCI ACWI Index as of Oct. 29, 2021. We have highlighted trends across different markets and at the industry level, and revised our expectations regarding the projected timeline required for companies to reach either 30% women directors, or full gender parity at 50% women directors. 


Key findings include:


  • Although women representation at the board level has improved, the rate of change has varied year over year. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021 there was a moderate improvement in the rate of increase in women representation on boards compared to 2020, among constituents of the MSCI ACWI Index as of Oct 29, 2021.
  • While there has been an overall decline in the number of companies with all-male boards, 26.4% of the constituents of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, a subset of the MSCI ACWI Index, still had all-male boards. 
  • Among developed markets, European countries had the highest percentage of companies with at least 30% women directors (78.7%). In addition, only 0.9% of the companies had all-male boards.
  • The CEO’s office remained mostly out of reach for women across all regions in 2021. However, for the first time between 2017 and 2021, the percentage of women CEOs in emerging markets (5.4%) slightly surpassed the percentage of women CEOs in developed markets (5.2%).
  • Utilities retained its position as the sector with the highest percentage of companies with at least 30% women directors, at 45% in 2021, versus 38% in 2020, while the energy sector achieved the largest increase in the overall percentage of directorships held by women, at 21.2% in 2021 versus 18.5% in 2020.
  • Nevertheless, the boards of directors of all constituents of the MSCI ACWI Index remained male-dominated overall, with only 1.2% having a majority female board. 


To read the full report, click here.



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