The representation of women on corporate boards worldwide improved notably in 2019, according to new research from MSCI Inc.
The firm’s latest review of the 2,765 companies that comprise the MSCI ACWI Index found that the percentage of female directors jumped from 17.9% in 2018 to 20.0% this year.
“Compared with incremental growth in female participation in board directorships in 2017-2018, 2019 showed a more pronounced increase in the percentage of women on boards,” the report said, noting that the growth was primarily driven by increases in the U.S.
The uptick in the proportion of female directors slightly reduced the forecast time until 30% female directorship is reached, the firm said, with that milestone now projected for 2027. At the current pace, gender parity among global directors “might be reached by 2044.”
The report also found that the proportion of companies with at least three female directors — which is seen as a “tipping point” in female representation — increased from 32% in 2018 to 36% in 2019, primarily driven by developed markets.
In particular, it noted that 78% of European companies now have boards with three or more female directors.
MSCI reported that the tech sector, a historical laggard in female representation, had the sharpest increase in the share of companies with at least three female directors, jumping to 28.3% in 2019, up from 15.5% in 2018.
The share of companies with all-male boards has also dropped from over 22.5% in 2017 to 18.6% in 2019, MSCI said, noting that this was primarily driven by progress among Japanese firms.