AP2 Women’s Index 2013: The number of women on corporate boards has declined for the second year in succession, although the number in executive management positions continues to grow

The 2013 edition of AP2’s Women’s Index reveals that the number of women on corporate boards has declined since 2011 and, according to this latest report, account for only 22.3 per cent. However, the number of women in executive management positions continues to note a steady rise, to the current level of 17.2 per cent.

Since 2011, the proportion of women employed by the 250-plus companies quoted on the Stockholm Stock Exchange has declined from 22.9 per cent to 22.3 per cent in 2013. This decline stems from the smaller companies, while the proportion of women employed by the ‘large cap’ companies has increased to slightly in excess of 25 per cent.

During the same period, there has been a rise in the level of female representation on corporate boards and, in the past year, this increase has totalled almost an entire percentage unit, rising from 16.3 per cent to 17.3 per cent in 2013. The corresponding level for the ‘large cap’ companies is close to 19 per cent.

“It is troubling that the proportion of women on corporate boards has declined again this year, and in principle has reverted to the same level as noted for 2010. As shareholders, we must seriously – and to a still greater extent – address the issue of what we can do to reverse this trend. What is pleasing is the increasing number of women in executive management positions, especially in light of the fact that this group constitutes the primary recruiting base for future board members,” states Eva Halvarsson, CEO of AP2.

If the pace of change noted over the past decade continues, it will be another 31 years before women fill 50 per cent of the seats on corporate boards. The corresponding forecast for achieving 50 per cent representation on executive managements is no less than 52 years: i.e. not until 2065.

There is a marked difference between male and female-dominated industries when it comes to the number of women in executive positions and, particularly, in the overall number of employees. Female representation is greatest in industries with the highest percentage of female employees. Companies in the Services and Consumer Staples sectors boast the highest proportion of women on their boards, while the Healthcare and Media & Entertainment sectors have the highest percentage of female executives. The Commodities sector is worst, with the lowest levels of women on company boards and in executive management positions. Even so, there has been an increase in the number of women in executive management. Consequently, men comprise less than 90 per cent of the executive managements of companies in this sector (women account for 11.7 per cent).

The number of women studying for degrees in fields that have historically been a source of recruitment for company management and board members has increased over the past 30 years; from just below 20 per cent to almost 50 per cent today. However, women tend to drop off in the transition from graduates to employees (almost a third), to managers (one fourth) and to Group management (one sixth).

Since 2003, AP2 has conducted an annual survey together with Nordic Investor Services to measure the number of women in middle management roles, in company management positions and on the boards of companies listed on the stock exchange. In addition, the number of women graduating from degree programmes that have traditionally served as a basis for recruitment to company management and boards has also been measured.

Read the report. (PDF document, 1,8 MB)

For further information, please contact:
Eva Halvarsson, CEO AP2, +46 (0)31 704 29 00
Ulrika Danielson, Communications Manager, +46 (0)709 50 16 13