CWDI Releases 2013 Report on Women Directors of Top Retail and Consumer Product Companies Globally


·         Retail and Consumer Products companies – where women’s consumer strength is most evident – outpace other industries in placing women on the boards of directors, but the numbers are far from where they should be given women’s market impact.

·         The percentage of women board directors in the top retail and consumer products companies globally is 18.4%.  This is 3.4% higher than the percentage of women directors on the boards of the Fortune Global 200 companies, which stands at 15%. However, men still dominate the corporate board rooms (81.6%) in this industry.


·         Among the best performers, first in CWDI’s “Top Ten” list of companies with the highest percentage of female directors is Avon Products, with 60% women directors (six of ten).  Avon is followed by Douglas Holdings AG, a German perfume, book, jewelry and confection retailer with over 1,900 stores, which has 56.3% women directors.  Two Swedish companies have women comprising half of their board directors – Clothing retailer H+M and Axfood, one of the largest supermarket chains in Scandinavia.


·         Nearly 80% (134 of 168) of the top retail and consumer product companies have at least one woman board director – a higher percentage than the 76.5% of companies in the Fortune Global 200 with one or more female directors.    The majority (76%) of the retail/consumer products companies with no women directors are based in Asia-Pacific region.


·         Regionally, European and North American do better in placing women on corporate boards:  23.9% of board directors are women in European retail/consumer products companies, while in North America, woman occupy 22.3% of board seats in the same industry.  African companies in the study (11.4%), Asia-Pacific (9.6%), and Latin American (9.5%) retail/consumer product companies all fall significantly short of the 18.4% average representation within the industry. 


·         Quotas and gender diversity language in corporate governance codes continue to bring about higher percentages of women on boards.  Companies based in countries where there is a legislative quota (Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain) have 24% of their board seats held by women, compared to only 17.8% for those companies based in countries without a quota. 


·         The retail/consumer products companies based in the 11 countries with gender diversity language in their corporate governance codes do even better:  25.9% of the board seats in these companies are held by women compared to 16% in those without such language.


·         The percentage of women executive officers does not parallel the percentage of women board directors.  Only 12.6% of executive officer positions are held by women, 5.8% lower than the percentage of women board directors on the same companies. 


·         Seven women hold CEO posts in the 168 retail/consumer product companies in the study, 4.2% of the companies, three additional companies have women Board Chairs.  Companies with women CEOs or Board Chairs have almost double the percentage of women on boards than the survey average – 35.8% to 18.4% -- and more than double the percentage of women executive officers – 32% to 12.6%.


·         By and large, retail and consumer product companies are among the pacesetters in their respective countries.  UK retail and consumer product companies, for instance, average 23.4% women board directors – 6.1% higher than the FTSE 100 average.  Canada, the US, and Japan’s retail companies also outperform their country average significantly.  In France, where a quota has introduced higher percentages of women onto more company boards, there is little difference between retail companies and the country average.


·         Larger and mid-sized companies do much better in placing women on boards than smaller companies.  The 101 large-cap companies in the report average 19.6% women board directors and the 51 mid-cap companies average 18.2%.  The 16 small-cap companies in the study (including well-known brands in the US, such as Rite-Aid, Barnes and Noble and Supervalu) average only 9.4% women board directors. 


·         No industry has a higher percentage of companies with women board directors than the retail and consumer products industry (79.8%).  Healthcare places second with 72.3% of its companies having at least one woman director on its 100 largest companies, followed by financial services (67.8%) and utilities (66.9%). 


·         Consumer product companies hold an edge over retail companies in placing women on boards.  22.1% of board seats in consumer product companies are held by women, while women occupy 16.2% of board seats in retail companies.  Within the industry, “household and personal product companies” (27.3%) and “textiles, apparel, and luxury goods” (23.7%) companies do the best in placing women on boards.  At the opposite end, “food and staples retailers” average just 13.6% of women board directors.

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