‘Quotas are not significantly boosting number of women senior managers’

Quotas have failed to significantly boost the number of women in senior management roles, according to new research.

A report for the High Pay Centre and the Guardian shows quotas have led to a rise in the number of non-executive women directors. In Norway which has had a 40% quota for non-executive directors since 2008, 35% are women. However, the number of women in senior management roles has only risen from 15% to 18% and there is no female chief executive in any major Norwegian company.


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This compares with the US which has the highest number of female chief executives [20 of the leading 500 companies] but no quotas. However, only 17% of board members in the US are women – a number which has not changed in the past seven years.

The High Pay Centre report says more needs to be done to address the lack of a pipeline of senior female managers. It says: “There is a danger that appointing women to non-executive board positions is used as window dressing for companies that are doing little to promote women through the executive ranks.

“There is a danger that governments believe they have fixed the diversity issue by introducing quotas on overall board membership whilst not addressing the dearth of women actually running companies.”

The research shows that in Spain, which also has a 40% quota to be reached by 2015, any rise in female numbers has been mainly in non-executive board roles.  Representation of women on the boards has risen from 7% to 13% and women in senior management roles has risen from 7% to 10%.

In Sweden, however, which has a target of an equal gender balance by 2010, women make up 25% of those sitting on boards and 22% of senior managers are women.

The report also found that the biggest companies in France, Germany, Japan, Belgium and Italy all had no women chief executive.

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