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MSCI: Progress toward 30% female board representation has slowed

The trajectory of global company boards achieving 30% female representation has slowed, shows a new report by MSCI.

The latest annual "Women on Boards" report, which has run since 2014 and assesses gender equality on public company boards, showed that the index provider's projection will take longer to reach 30% representation, which will now be 2029 instead of 2027 as predicted in 2015.

The proportion of women holding directorships at MSCI All-Country World index companies increased to 17.9% as of Oct. 16, compared with 17.3% a year earlier.

MSCI said developed market companies had 21.6% female representation at the director level, up from 20.4% a year earlier; while MSCI Emerging Markets index companies saw women hold 11.2% of board of director seats, up from 10.2% in 2017.

Also within MSCI ACWI companies, more than one-fifth of the 2,694 firms had all-male boards, at 21.3%. Almost all of the companies in this index had majority male boards. The research showed that the majority of these firms with all-male boards were based in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Several European countries had no companies with all-male boards, while 11 companies across the index had majority female directors on the board, up from seven last year.

Despite increased female representation, the proportion of female CEOs fell in MSCI ACWI companies to 3.7% in 2018, from 3.9% in 2017, although the number of firms with a female CEO in these companies grew to 99 from 96 a year previous. MSCI said that of the 99 firms with a female CEO, 26 were based in the U.S., 17 in China, eight in the U.K. and six in Australia.

However, among MSCI World index companies domiciled in the U.S., 4.5% of CEOs were women in 2018, down from 5.1% last year.

The report is available for download on MSCI's website.