Good corporate governance helps firms improve performance, drive growth, manage risks, attract and retain investors, and weather financial crises. To be truly effective, a board requires a diversity of skills, cultures, and views to make smart decisions with lasting impact.
The Case for Women
A growing body of research shows that a broad set of business benefits is associated with gender diversity on corporate boards. These include: improved financial performance and shareholder value; increased customer and employee satisfaction; rising investor confidence; and greater market knowledge and reputation.
As part of our overall corporate governance work, IFC is building capacity, raising awareness, and expanding the discussion about gender diversity on boards in developing countries.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia, IFC is working with researchers to better identify why there are so few women on corporate boards, and is developing policy recommendations on what needs to be done by market players and regulators to empower women and improve board diversity.
In Indonesia, IFC organized with the Women Corporate Directors, the Center for the Study of Governance of the University of Indonesia and IPMI International Business School the country’s first round table discussion on the role of women on boards. The event addressed the cultural, social and economic burdens preventing women from reaching the boardroom and was the first in a series of awareness raising and capacity building initiatives to be organized with IFC’s partners in the future.
In Jordan, IFC developed a comprehensive training module entitled “The Benefits of Gender Diversified Boards” and the document is being used extensively across the Middle East and North Africa Region. IFC provided advisory services to 44 entities, including training on corporate governance and diversified boards. Four entities received in-depth advisory services through comprehensive corporate governance assessments and reviews. IFC also conducted workshops with the Amman Chamber of Commerce and Corporate Governance Responsibility Forum to equip 39 female executives with necessary skills to succeed in the work place). Currently IFC is collaborating with the Jordan Institute of Directors on research that aims to review and measure the gender diversity on boards among 200 companies (listed, family-owned businesses, small and medium enterprises, NFP) which represent different sectors and geographical areas in Jordan.
In Pakistan, IFC conducted research, as part of the Pakistan Corporate Governance Project, to assess the number of women on corporate boards, taking a sample of about 300 companies, including those listed on the stock exchanges, large family owned companies as well as private unlisted companies. The results were presented in a discussion paper in 2010, which was widely disseminated and quoted in business circles, helping IFC launch a series of nine round-tables discussions in three major cities of Pakistan, featuring over 150 managers and directors from corporate Pakistan. Following these programs, which represented Pakistan's first ever training for women directors, seven women have secured board seats or top management positions as of to date.
The Project has also yielded results at the regulatory level: policy makers revised the country’s Code of Corporate Governance last year to encourage the inclusion of gender diversity as a key consideration of board compositions. The Project is now encouraging gender diversity on boards of family companies and small and medium enterprises.
In Yemen, IFC worked with local partners, The Yemeni Businessmen Club and The Center of Business Administration to organize the first of a series of awareness raising and capacity building initiatives/workshops targeting local businesswomen to serve as effective and qualified board members. IFC also trained Yemeni women to serve as corporate governance consultants in order to advance the corporate governance agenda in the market place in a sustainable manner.
IFC promotes diversity on boards across developing and emerging markets and, through its programs on corporate governance, supports training for senior women executives. By 2015 we expect to fill at least 30 percent of IFC-nominated director positions with women, up from the current 23 percent.
IFC has been involved in supporting founding participants in Women Corporate Director chapters in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Vietnam.