Women still rare in banking boardrooms

Nov 15 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Only one in 10 board directors of the world's 50 largest banks are women while some of the largest banks have no women on their boards at all, according to a new report.

Research by the Washington-based Corporate Women Directors International found that only seven out of 10 of the 50 largest global banks have any women among their board members.

Women are marginally better represented in the boardrooms of U.S. banks, with nine out of 10 of the100 largest banks having at least one woman director.

But even so, this means that only 12 per cent of the board seats in U.S. banks are held by women, a figure that lags behind the 13.7 per cent female board representation in U.S. corporations as a whole.

Of the global top-50 banks, Nordea Bank AB of Sweden leads the way with four women on its 11-member board.

The best U.S. bank in terms of women board member representation is Golden West Financial Corp. with five women on its nine-member board, making it one of only two large U.S. companies with a majority of women directors.

In contrast, the world's largest bank, Swiss-based UBS, has no women directors.

It is a similar story for the six Japanese banks in the global top-50, none of whom have any female board members.

While they are poorly-represented at board level, women comprise two-thirds of all bank employees and half of officials and managers in commercial banking.

Irene Natividad, co-chair of Corporate Women Directors International, added that while many banks targeted products and services at women, they were not matching that effort in their boardrooms.

Reatha Clark King, a board member of U.S. bank Wells Fargo, which has five women directors on its 15-strong board, said that the results of the survey were disappointing.

"Some banks are making big strides in adding more women and minorities to their boards", she said.

"I thought we had made much more progress, because there is much greater attention for the need to diversify boards today. In some organisations there has been lots of progress, but it has been spotty."