Report shows growing progress in female representation on boards

The 2021 Board Diversity Index report released by TheBoardroom Africa in partnership with the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) highlights growing progress made towards female representation in boardrooms of listed companies in Ghana.

Despite the progress, the gender gap amongst senior executives in Ghana’s top-listed companies remains wide. Among the 35 companies listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange, women hold only 25% of board seats and 27% of non-executive director seats.

This figure represents a 3% increase in board seats held by women and a 3% increase in non-executive director seats held by women from 2020. The 2021 Board Diversity Index reveals that the most common role held by women across most companies remains the position of corporate secretary.

While 75% of all corporate secretaries among GSE-listed companies are women, this position is not a director role. By virtue of their work and presence at board meetings, corporate secretaries can exert influence in the boardroom and can be great director candidates yet seldom hold a seat at the table.

Key sectors assessed in the 2021 Board Diversity Index include agriculture and agribusiness, financial services, automobile, advertising and communications, education, energy, consumer goods, and food and beverage. Amongst these sectors, fast-moving consumer goods, mining and telecommunications have the highest levels of female boardroom representation. However, in terms of the aggregate number of women, the financial services sector outperforms all sectors: 40% of all female directors in GSE- listed companies are represented in the financial services sector.

Highlights from the report:

  • Women hold 25% of the board seats and 27% of non-executive director seats of GSE-listed companies— an increase of 3% from 2020, respectively.
  • Almostone-third (29%)  percent of Ghana’s listed companies have boards featuring at least 30% female board directors, an increase of 2% from 2020. By international standards, 30% is considered the minimum threshold to reap the benefits of boardroom diversity.
  • 45.5% of companies still have one or zero women on their boards. This metric has decreased by 3.5% from 2020.
  • Only 6 out of the 13  sectors have companies with more than 30% representation.
  • Women make up 15% of Chair, 12% of CEOs/MDs, 4% of CFOs, and 10% of COOs on Ghana’s listed boards. There has been an increase in the number of Chairs and CEOs/MDs by %  & 4% respectively from 2020; however, there has been a decrease in the number of CFOs and COO by 9% & 5% respectively from 2020.
  • Businesses with female chairs tend to have more women on their boards compared with businesses with male board chairs. 80% of companies with female chairs have 30% or more women on their board, an increase of 30% from 2020, while only 28% of companies with male chairs have 30% or more women on their board, a decrease of 1% from 2020.
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Commenting on the methodology, Marcia Ashong, Founder and CEO of TheBoardroom Africa, said, “We recognise the progress made towards achieving greater female representation in the corporate governance sphere, but know that there is more that can be done to advance gender diversity in the boardroom.  As such, we call upon companies to commit to advancing parity by signing the Board Diversity Charter and to the Government of Ghana to promote gender-conscious board appointments in companies where it holds a stake.”

Commenting on the significance of the 2021 Board Diversity Index, Abena Amoah, Deputy Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange, said, “The Ghana Stock Exchange aims to champion inclusive growth and prosperity to power a stronger economy. We are inspired by the strides of our issuers in advancing gender diversity and pledge to work with all companies listed on the GSE to create stronger and more inclusive boards.”