Winds of change: Trade as a catalyst for board gender diversity

A report from the Stellenbosch Business School Research Chair: Women at Work

This report can help European and South African businesses do business responsibly. Factors such as board structure, the board size, and the tenure of directors are assessed to determine the influence of gender composition of boards. By explaining the differences in the structure and functioning of boards, it is hoped to make it easier for companies in different countries to do business. The report also aims to take the best of both worlds and inspire both European and South African companies to use their influence to work towards gender parity on boards across the globe.

  • Moving forward: A summary of our recommendations covers learnings from the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom (UK), and South Africa.
  • Board 101: Fundamental building blocks covers the links between diverse boards, improved corporate governance, and stakeholder relations. We also look at the overall differences between rule-based and principle-based governance frameworks.
  • Board gender diversity: The current state of play reflects on the broad spread of progress towards gender-diverse boards, and the reporting requirements for listed companies in South Africa, the UK and the EU.
  • Board structures: Form follows function explains the differences between one-tier, two-tier, hybrid and Nordic structures, and the role of codetermination in European boards. We also look at the correlation between board structure and board size.
  • Women-led committees: Breaking through the second glass ceiling reflects on the importance of the audit, nomination, remuneration and risk committees for better-governed boards and gender transformation.
  • People on boards: The right fit gets the best out of the board looks at which roles have the most influence, the implications of a dual chairperson-CEO role, the importance of monitoring how long directors stay on boards, and how to prepare new directors for their board roles.
  • Racial diversity: A powerful force for good stresses that diversity is about more than gender, and explores the progress that South Africa, the UK and the EU have made towards creating boards that reflect the demographics of the population.
  • Levers of change: More than one way to level the playing field reveals how institutional investors and shareholders have used their influence to encourage more gender-diverse boards. We also look at the role of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003 (the B-BBEE Act) in South Africa and its implications for gender diversity

Stellenbosch Business School



Prof. Anita Bosch:

Research Chair for Women at Work, Stellenbosch Business School

Shimon Barit, LLM:

Research Fellow, Stellenbosch Business School