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European companies enhance range scores in pandemic yr, research finds By Reuters

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© Reuters.

By Aida Pelaez-Fernandez

(Reuters) – The number of large European companies with high participation of women in leadership positions has doubled over the past year, but less progress has been made in top jobs, a study by an EU-funded nonprofit found Thursday.

The Brussels-based association European Women on Boards, which analyzed 668 of the listed companies in Europe listed in the index and national benchmarks, said the number of companies with high scores in the Gender Diversity Index had increased from 32 in 2019 to 62.

It is defined as a high score index of 0.8 and higher, where zero means that there are no women on company boards or in other management positions and 1 is the ideal value with a representation of 50%.

Women made up just over a third of the boards of directors of the companies analyzed, but only held 14% of the “C-suite” jobs, such as B. Managing Director, Chief Operating or Finance Officer. Only 6% of companies had female CEOs, the association said, though that meant an improvement of 4.7% in 2019.

The study found that women were harder hit by the coronavirus pandemic, experienced higher levels of unemployment and stress levels of work-life balance, but the impact on gender diversity scores was not discussed.

The United Nations has set a target for 2030 to achieve gender equality, and several EU countries, including its largest member Germany, have laws promoting this. However, one report estimated that the bloc was at least 60 years away from achieving that goal at the present time.

Companies from Norway, France, Great Britain, Finland and Sweden topped the list, with Switzerland and the newly represented Poland at the bottom of the table.

Three real state-owned companies that were included in the STOXX 600 index in 2020, the British corporations Assura and Grainger and the Swedish Wihlborgs Fastigheter AB, led with a perfect score.

Six of the companies surveyed had no women on their boards of directors, executive boards or committees, including two from Germany – Nemetschek and Rational – as the study showed.

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