State Street Global Advisors releases new report on gender diversity in boards in GCC
State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) has released a new research report titled ‘Gender Diversity on Boards in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries’. The company examined 172 blue chip companies across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and found that one-third of them have at least one female board member, which represents a 130-percent increase over the last three years. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have made greatest progress in terms of board gender diversity.
This latest research shows that closing the gender gap in the workforce in the Middle East and North Africa, including the GCC, could add US$2.7 trillion to the region’s economy by 2025.
Beginning in March 2022, SSGA expect boards of companies in all markets and indices to have at least one female director and will take voting action in the case of non-compliance.
In a statement from the company, the team at SSGA are especially concerned with ensuring effective independent board leadership, which involves achieving the right skill sets as well as a diversity of views, including gender diversity, in boards. Its Fearless Girl campaign has inspired companies and shareholders worldwide to focus on board diversity and join us in our call to action, with close to 900 companies identified by SSGA responding by adding a female director.
SSGA believe directors have an important role to play in increasing gender diversity on their boards and throughout their organizations, and have included guidance to help facilitate these efforts in the GCC countries.
SSGA’s focus on the GCC region is supported by ongoing socio-economic reforms in the GCC countries, aimed at unlocking opportunities to increase female economic empowerment and participation in the labour force, and the 2018 decisions of index providers FTSE and MSCI to include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Bahrain in their emerging markets indices. SSGA expect that over time, as more international investors increase their exposure to the GCC’s equity markets, listed companies in the region will face more pressure to improve their governance standards and gender diversity across all levels within organizations.