Boards Don't Need More Women, Say Many Men. But Actually, They Totally Do.

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Women only make up about one in five directors on the boards of America's biggest public companies.

And lots of men are A-OK with that, according to PwC's 2016 Annual Corporate Directors Survey.

The study found that most company directors are satisfied with women making up less than half of a company's board of directors. Yet at the same time, they claim diversity is important.

women on boards

PwC talked to 884 public company directors as part of its survey. Eighty-three per cent of them were men, 17 per cent were women.

Most respondents said women should only represent less than 40 per cent of a board's membership.

Ten per cent said women should represent 20 per cent of directors at most — all but three per cent of the people who said this were men.

Meanwhile, very few respondents (five per cent) said women should represent more than half of a board's directors.

women workplace

Nevertheless, a hefty majority of survey respondents recognized the importance of board diversity.

Ninety-six per cent of respondents saw it as "at least somewhat important." Most (47 per cent) said a diverse group of directors makes them more effective at their work.

But company performance is another matter entirely.

Only 35 per cent believe strongly that board diversity enhances a firm's performance, compared to 49 per cent who only "somewhat" feel that way.

Gender gap

The survey uncovered a gender gap when it comes to how diversity affects company performance.

Eighty-nine per cent of female directors said board diversity helps a company achieve better results, while only 24 per cent of male directors said the same.

Gender diversity also falls well down the list when it comes to attributes people are looking for in a director.

Ninety-three per cent of respondents said they're looking for financial expertise, followed by operational know-how (69 per cent), industry expertise (68 per cent) and risk management experience (63 per cent).

board attributes

But Canadian companies shouldn't feel too smug; board diversity isn't just a problem down south.

The number of women directors on Canadian boards has only grown by one per cent in the past year among companies listed on the TSX, the Toronto Star reported last month.

That was despite Canadian regulators requiring public companies to report on board diversity over the past two years.

Advocacy groups want women to represent 30 per cent of directors. They only make up about 12 per cent of the boards of Canadian companies, according to the Financial Post.

(H/T Business Insider)

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