Opinion | Participation of women on Boards of Directors

25 Mar, 2024 | Noticias-en, Opinions


The choice of the title is not arbitrary and advances our opinion that giving space in these areas and, in all, to women is not an exercise for diversity, because, among other reasons, not even numerically, women are a minority. If this is not the case, it does not seem reasonable that, in specific areas, gender should be treated this way.
We chose this topic because we frequently see spaces for discussion about the inclusion of women in the Latin American labor market. However, there are fewer spaces that deal with the inclusion of women in the administration and representation bodies of public or private legal entities.


The World Economic Forum report, in reference to the “Global Gender Gap” of June 2023, indicated that, in general terms, it will take 53 years to close the gender gap in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In particular, the push to increase the role of women on boards may be even slower, compared to that in other areas of activity. In a work by the OECD2 “OECD Corporate Governance Factbook 2023” the following data is indicated in relation to the participation of women on the boards of directors of listed companies in the following Latin American countries:

As can be seen, inclusion in these forums is low. The acceleration of the inclusion of women in these areas has been handled in different ways depending on the country. Some propose state intervention through regulations (for example, with the establishment of mandatory quotas). Other countries have opted to disclose the gender composition of board members; while another group has established less rigorous mechanisms, such as the setting of voluntary objectives or goals or simply a collaborative approach.

To mention a case that is familiar to us, in India, according to the Companies Act, 2013 as amended, the participation of at least one woman on the boards of directors of companies is required.

According to a Harvard Business Review article “What Happened When India Mandated Gender Diversity on Boards”3, this movement began in 2003 in Norway, which established that boards should have 40% women in their composition. However, as also noted in the aforementioned work, it has been suggested that the response to these initiatives may result in the election of women to join the boards of directors with the sole purpose of complying with the law with the quota requirements without their presence can be considered legitimate. Likewise, one of the effects of the original Norwegian quota is that a small group of prominent women were appointed as directors in multiple companies.
According to the same work, this effect did not occur in India, where the law managed to significantly expand the group of different women who served as directors.

Some reflections

We asked ourselves, then, whether the issuance of standards would be the most effective way to increase the real participation of women on company boards.

It seems clear that a regulation of this nature requires, among other measures, prior attention to the issue of women’s participation in leadership positions, to avoid the repetition of phenomena such as the reports of concentration of appointments in few women or of lack of legitimacy. It is necessary, then, to educate and encourage the occupation of these spaces and not only impose participation.

And in all this, companies have a main role in adjusting their organizational culture and business administrative perspective. A company with a perspective of integration, diversity and gender focus should be a pioneer in these issues, enhance and promote it from its basic core, without waiting for the existence of an obligation. And this reflection is even more applicable to business conglomerates that are established. in different jurisdictions since it would not make sense to adopt a gender quota according to legislation if active and global policies for the participation of women in all positions and also on boards of directors are not maintained. This will imply a change and will generate resistance, but it cannot be postponed.

By Ana Cristina Peña, Crime Prevention Officer Latin America at Tata Consultancy Services.


1 World Economic Forum “Global Gender Gap 2023” retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/publications/global-gender-gap-report-2023/ consulted on March 18, 2024.

2 OECD (2023), OECD Corporate Governance Factbook 2023, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/6d912314-en consulted on March 18, 11, 2024.

3 HBR “What Happened When India Mandated Gender Diversity on Boards”, February 2021 retrieved from What Happened When India Mandated Gender Diversity on Boards (hbr.org)


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