Knowledge Center

Increasing Gender Diversity on Boards: Current Index of Formal Approaches

Around the globe and across all avenues for change—from legislated quotas to an explosion of advocacy groups championing voluntary measures—efforts calling for actions to increase board diversity are approaching a tipping point. The demand for greater gender equality in the boardroom is higher than ever before, and most directors recognize the value of board diversity.1

In several countries, companies are appointing more first-time directors to public company boards, and globally, women are joining corporate boards at greater rates than at any time in recent memory.2  Each of these indicators suggests that the expectation for businesses to diversify their boards is the new norm, and reinforces the importance of women in business.3  More and more, it appears that what may have worked in the past—relying predominantly on "who you know” to fill vacant board seats—will no longer be a viable solution for companies.4

Governments and businesses continue to engage in discussions about the best approach to increase women’s representation on boards. Thus far, efforts affect a variety of companies and have fallen into three distinct areas: legislative, regulatory, and voluntary methods.5  While the advantages and disadvantages of each approach are open to debate, the general consensus is that including more women on boards is good for business.6

Regardless of whether a specific country mandates a quota for women on boards, it is clear that the global movement foreshadows a race for top talent to fill board vacancies. Companies that aren’t addressing the gender diversity of their boards run the risk of being left behind.7

The following maps and tables summarize current approaches to increasing gender diversity on boards, categorized by method and status. This is not an exhaustive list. Catalyst encourages others to share their knowledge to expand and update the tables. For corrections or additions, please submit that information to the Catalyst Information Center. Contents last updated in August 2014.

How to cite: Catalyst. Increasing Gender Diversity on Boards: Current Index of Formal Approaches. New York: Catalyst, August 2014.