Female directors hold approximately 29 percent of board seats in continental Europe. 

When including companies in the U.K, this increases the average to 31 percent, in both cases beating the global average of 27 percent with a 4-percentage-point increase since 2019.

This is according to the inaugural Board Diversity Gaps: The Global Modern Leadership Report, which shows that while progress has been made in driving gender diversity on corporate boards, there are still massive gaps in how diversity is defined and represented on boards around the world.

The research shows that boardroom diversity by race, ethnicity, age, and LGBTQ+ representation lags significantly behind gender diversity globally. 


What are the laws in the UK?

The U.K is currently the only country in Europe requiring listed companies to include at least one director from an underrepresented ethnic or racial group. 

In large part due to laws and quotas, Europe as a region leads the world in terms of boardroom gender diversity — despite regional variations from country to country.

“Diversity has risen up the boardroom agenda as organisations face increasing pressure to better reflect the diversity of their customer bases and communities, but progress has been slow and there are still many gaps when it comes to reporting on race, ethnicity and LGBTQ+ representation on boards,” said Lisa Edwards, President, and COO of Diligent and board director at Colgate-Palmolive. 


Director appointments are far from parity 

The research found that only 36 percent of director appointments through May 2022 were female, on pace with the average for all of 2021. 

Female directors currently hold approximately 27 percent of public company board seats. This is up from from 26 percent in 2021 and a four-percentage point increase from 2019.


Female directors in Europe

Interestingly, the average age of female directors is roughly four years younger than their male counterparts, at 60 and 63.5 respectively. 

Female directors also have shorter tenures than their male counterparts at 4.7 years compared with 7.6.


How are the LGBTQ community represented?

The issue of LGBTQ+ representation is significantly behind other elements of boardroom diversity, with the U.S. being the only region analysed that provides this data.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community hold only 0.5 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500. Currently, the collection and disclosure of board race/ethnicity and LGBTQ+ representation data is non-existent in continental.

“The global picture of boardroom diversity today is varied and full of gaps, but what’s overwhelmingly clear is that gender diversity is the primary focus for boards around the world. Board diversity regarding race, ethnicity, age, and LGBTQ+ representation fall woefully behind,” said Dottie Schindlinger, Executive Director of the Diligent Institute. “By better understanding the state of boardroom diversity across the globe, we’re able to increase the odds that corporate leadership opportunities will be made available to underrepresented groups.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.