The percentage of women holding directorships on corporate boards ticked up in 2019 but progress is still slow, according to a report from MSCI released Monday.
The latest annual "Women on Boards" report, which has run since 2014 and assesses gender equality on public company boards, showed women held 20% of board seats at companies in the MSCI All-Country World index in 2019, compared to 17.9% a year earlier. The 2.1 percentage-point increase shortened MSCI's expectation of when global company boards will achieve 30% female representation to 2027, instead of 2029 as predicted last year.
The number of companies with majority female boards doubled in 2019 to 22, up from 11 the previous year, the report noted. But those 22 firms accounted for fewer than 1% of the constituents of the MSCI ACWI index as of Oct. 30, according to the report, which reviewed the 2,765 companies that constitute the MSCI ACWI index.
The portion of MSCI ACWI companies with all-male boards dropped to 18.6% in 2019 from 22.5% in 2017, driven largely by Japanese firms: 33% of the 323 Japan-domiciled MSCI ACWI companies had all-male boards in 2019, compared with 45% in 2018. Moreover, of the 51 Brazilian firms in the peer set, 29% had all-male boards in 2019, down from 47% last year, according to the report.
The report is available for download on MSCI's website.