Carnegie takes a closer look at diversity among the companies in our Nordic ESG coverage (~350 stocks).
Starting at board level, the share of women has been rising steadily. The trend is encouraging in Denmark, which has almost caught up with its Nordic neighbours with a 31% share in 2020. However, in Sweden, where board equality received much investor attention in 2014–16, diversity peaked in 2017 and has since backpedalled, now at 34%.
Norway, which introduced gender quotas for large caps in 2006, still leads the Nordics with 40% share. This places it third among OECD countries, after France (45%) and Iceland (44%).
10% of the companies in our ESG coverage have a 50/50 gender split
In the top-10 OECD countries in terms of board equality, eight have quotas in place. 10% of the companies in our ESG coverage have a 50/50 gender split, and the most diverse sectors are financials, food & staples and real estate. On the other hand, 2% of the companies had no women on their boards and 13% had a share below 20%. This is where investors and advisors really can make an impact and push for more diversity, in our view.
Qualified females – do they exist?
Some have argued that there are not enough qualified female CEO and board candidates. We believe this is an issue of the past. Since 2009, the share of female graduates at Sweden’s top business school, Stockholm School of Economics, has averaged 45%. The share of women graduating from the Royal Institute of Technology now stands at 36% according to UKÄ. By now there should be plenty of excellent female candidates to choose from.
Since 2009, the share of female graduates at Sweden’s top business school, Stockholm School of Economics, has averaged 45%. The share of women graduating from the Royal Institute of Technology now stands at 36%
Another factor impacting board recruitment and representation is the share of female CEOs. The share is improving among the companies in our ESG coverage, now at 10%. But given the rising share of women graduating from top universities, it is odd that the share of female CEOs is still so low. Research (Harward Business Review) shows that selection and gender bias leads to men recruiting men. It therefore takes brave men to recruit women to the top spots, and eventually as their ranks grow, brave women to promote other women.