The FINANCIAL — Gender parity progress is painfully slow in the global power and utilities sector with the number of women in board positions rising just 1% in the last three years, according to EY’s annual Women in Power and Utilities Index 2016 (Index).
The Index — which identified the largest 200 utilities by revenue and ranked them according to representation of women in executive positions — found only 25 women in board executive positions globally (5%). Research also shows women occupy just 19% of non-executive board positions and 14% of senior management team (SMT) roles. The proportion of women in SMT roles was the only statistic to increase each year from 12% in 2014 and 13% in 2015.
With 345 women out of a total 2,149 positions (16%) currently in board roles it will take 515 more women appointed to reach just 40% representation. And to grow from the existing 5% women in board executive roles to 10% requires another 24 women be appointed.
Alison Kay, EY’s Global Vice Chair ‒ Industry, says:
“At the current rate of progress, it will take 72 years to reach 40% women on boards in the power and utilities sector. That’s too long. Companies must address what’s holding them back from better diversity at the boardroom table — especially when research into the top 200 utilities shows the most gender-diverse outperformed the least gender-diverse by 14.8% on return on equity.”
Regionally, the Americas have the highest percentage of female board executives (led by Latin America with 9%), followed closely by Europe (7%). These regions also top the list for the percentage of women in non-executive board roles. Asia-Pacific had the lowest percentage of women board executives at just 3%.
“While diversity comes in many forms — such as age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and nationality — ensuring women are present at the boardroom table is an important starting point for utilities. International Women’s Day is celebrated tomorrow and research like this highlights that it’s time to take action and to put gender on the agenda,” says Kay.