Gender-equal boards out of reach until 2038, says MSCI

FILE PHOTO: A boardroom is seen in an office building in Manhattan, New York City, New York

LONDON (Reuters) – Gender inequality in boardrooms will not be eliminated until 2038 if the current improvement in female representation is maintained, data provider MSCI said on Wednesday, adding that progress had even stagnated in the United States.

Data modelled by MSCI shows that if the average rate of growth for the number of women on boards between 2018 and 2022 continues, companies in the data provider’s flagship global equity index will not have gender-balanced boards for 15 years.

This means women will not take an average of 50% of board seats across the 2,811 companies which make up MSCI’s All Country World Index (ACWI) until 2038, based on the current trajectory.

However, this is an improvement from data collected in 2021 which suggested the 50% threshold would not be met until 2042. MSCI has also brought forward by one year to 2026 its projection for when women will take 30% of seats on all boards of the ACWI.

After a slowdown in the rate of inclusion of women on corporate boards in 2020, the trajectory towards gender equality accelerated in 2022, with the number of board seats held by women increasing by 1.9% from a year earlier, MSCI said.

MSCI attributes the recovery to a steady increase in female representation on boards of companies in developed markets outside the United States, and said the U.S. growth rate had stagnated for three consecutive years.

There is still a considerable way to go globally, however. In 2022, women held less than a quarter, or 24.5%, of director seats across the global index versus the 22.6% held in 2021, MSCI said.

In addition, women held CEO positions in only 163 of the 2,811 companies.

In Qatar, none of the 12 constituents of the ACWI had female directors. In the United States, only 1 of 593 companies had no women directors.

(Reporting by Virginia Furness; Editing by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes and Jan Harvey)