OECD: equality is not yet the reality

Although many companies throughout OECD countries are now preoccupied with the issue of equality, there is still progress to be made. Here is an update on the situation in a few figures.

A few hundred years after its inauguration, does International Women’s Day, a focus on the status of women, still have a place? Yes, if we are to believe the statistics presented by the OECD. Although many efforts have been made in recent years in most Western countries to give women access to seats on the boards of directors of major companies, it remains true that less than 10% of these positions are occupied by women. This less than stellar result confirms the need for progress in terms of equality in the workplace.

Major differences depending on the country
The proportional average, revealed by the “equality browser”, a new instrument from the OECD for accountability of progress, including in employment, is a figure which hides major regional disparities. For example, Norway is a good student – the ratio of women on boards of directors is flirting with 40%. This is an admirable score, explained by the adoption, in 2006, of a mandatory quota within companies. In Sweden, France, Slovakia and even Finland, the results, although lower, are nonetheless above average, ranging between 15 and 20%. While far from perfect equality, they are still well ahead of the level noted in Germany, Japan and the Netherlands, at less than 5%. Meanwhile, in 2009 Canada was only able to leave room for women in corporate governance at a level of 6.3%.

Governments into the action
With plenty of room left for progress, one country after another has taken it on – France, Spain, Ireland, Belgium and even Italy have already legislated increases in the near future for places for women on corporate boards. Political decisions now remain to be implemented – the date is set for the next International Women’s Day, an opportunity to take fresh stock of the situation.

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