More than 50% of the companies listed in the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) have at least one woman on the board of directors as of 31 July 2020, slightly up from 47 percent in 2019, according to the Board Diversity Index 2020 report released by TheBoardroom Africa.
The report indicates that more effort is needed by EGX listed companies to increase the representation of women on their boards of directors,
TheBoardroom Africa is a regional network of female executives in Africa that aims to improve access to board opportunities for women and accelerate the presence of women on boards by working with development finance institutions, private equity investors, and companies to accelerate the appointment of women on boards and build a growing pipeline of board-ready women.
The report was prepared in partnership with the Women on Boards Observatory at The American University in Cairo (AUC) and the EGX.
The index tracks the number of listed companies’ boards by country and identifies all board seats filled by women while also monitoring the number of women chairs and in other executive positions.
To date, the index covers publicly listed boards across 11 African countries, including Egypt.
As of July 2020, among the 242 companies listed on the EGX, women hold only 10.8 percent of board seats, according to the report.
“Although this figure represents a 0.7 percent increase in board seats held by women from 2019, women are rarely included in the governance and management of some of Egypt’s most notable companies,” said the report.
Key sectors assessed in the 2020 index include banking, energy, industrial goods, shipping, textiles, travel and leisure, and utilities.
Among these sectors, the textile and durables sectors have the highest percentage of women board directors, with 2 out of 8 companies having more than 30 percent female directors, according to the report.
However, in terms of the aggregate number of women, the energy and support services sector outperformed all sectors, as 23 percent of all directors in the sector are female, according to the index.
Marcia Ashong, founder and CEO of TheBoardroom Africa, said that over the last decade, Egyptian women have made significant strides in access to rights, education, and the labour market.
“While Egyptian universities turn out more female than male graduates, those gains have failed to translate to equitable representation in the workforce and at the highest level of leadership, the boardroom,” she added.
Ghada Howaidy, founder of the Women on Boards Observatory and associate dean for executive education and external relations at AUC’s School of Business, said that good corporate governance helps firms improve performance, drive growth, and manage risk.
“To be truly effective, a board requires a diversity of skills and perspectives. The Board Diversity Index shows that many EGX listed companies are true gender diversity champions, but that there is still much work to be done,” she added.
Touching upon the role of stock exchanges in promoting gender diversity, Mohamed Farid, chairman of the EGX, said that the bourse is fully committed and aware of the impact that greater inclusivity could have in building competitive, value-creating companies and ,therefore, resilient and inclusive economies.
“To that end, we have collaborated with the AUC Women on Board Observatory to promote stronger board governance for listed companies, build a board ready women database, offer board placement services to listed companies, develop an annual monitoring report for women on boards, as well as provide corporate governance awareness and training programs with an embedded gender component to highlight the benefits of board diversity,” said Farid.
“Moving on, to close the gender gap, all listed companies are now required to put at least one woman on their boards.”