Women in top jobs still rare in corporate Europe, study finds

Gender inequality still exists in the workplace, reducing the amount of opportunities for women.

Women make up one third of executive boards but occupy only a small minority of leadership roles in Europe’s biggest companies, according to a study by an EU-sponsored non-profit organisation.  

The study, published on Wednesday by Brussels-based association European Women on Boards, found that only 28 women headed companies included in Europe’s STOXX 600 index, which tracks companies across 17 European countries. Only 7% of those companies have female board chairs.

The United Nations has set a 2030 target deadline for achieving gender equality, but studies indicate that no country has yet managed it.

Despite good intentions, “today’s corporate world is still far from gender equality,” said Päivi Jokinen, the association’s chairwoman.

The report offered no specific recommendations, but Jokinen said the research suggested countries that have adopted diversity legislation and binding quotas did not seem to do better than those where progress has been made through social change.

Among the 12 countries with at least 10 companies represented, Norway ranked top for gender diversity, followed by France, which had the highest number of women in supervisory boards and control committees. At the other end of the table, Spain has the second lowest gender diversity score, with Switzerland closing the ranking.

The study named Swedish real estate firm Castellum, French luxury group Kering, and French food services and facilities management group Sodexo as the index’s top three companies on gender diversity.

The study included 598 companies listed on the index. It did not make comparisons to the previous year’s edition, which had a much smaller sample.

Source: Reuters. Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com.

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