Diversity, the outstanding corporate debt

In Argentina, women represent only 10.6% of corporate board members.

The latest edition of the Spencer Stuart Board Index 2022 for Argentina puts a magnifying glass on main corporate governance practices and reveals the profile of the people on the boards of firms listed on the local capital market. The publication was based on a survey of 480 top positions on the boards of 60 local companies and is a strategic input that enables analysis and increasingly accurate decision-making.

A surprising item, particularly in today’s context when the need for diverse leadership is more relevant than ever, is the scarce female talent at the highest corporate level. In Argentina, women represent only 10.6% of corporate board members. This number is not only below the world average (24% by 2018) but also the figures from Brazil and the US, where women take 13.2% and 32% of these positions, respectively. 

And women in leadership positions at the highest levels are even fewer: out of the 51 women in our survey, only one is the chairwoman of the board and the other one is a vice president. The rest are board members. 

However, female participation has been growing in recent years. According to the Spencer Stuart Board Index 2019, women had 8% of seats in local boards. The slight rise registered in our latest survey shows that boards have recently started to implement their gender diversity agenda. For example, 65% of the women surveyed in 2022 are going through their first experience in a board.

The profiles of Argentine board members are completed with some additional data: their average age is 55.2 years old, and almost a third of them belong to the companies’ shareholding families. 30% of them are lawyers, there is a significant presence of public accountants, and many of them have developed their professional careers in the areas of banking and finances. Women have the strongest presence on the boards of mass consumption industries and agroindustrial enterprises. 

Another interesting finding is that 10% of the female directors have taken the role of CEO. This is not a minor detail, since boards are nurtured by corporate leadership. Therefore, women with a higher chance of obtaining this position are those who have worked as CEO of an organization. The lag in the diversity agenda shouldn’t be an obstacle for candidates who aspire to enter corporate boards. Together with the training and certifications to complement their management experience, it would be positive for them to set on a learning path with the purpose of having an impact in non-executive environments: participating in business chambers, professional associations and networks, NGOs, and other places where collaborative thinking, consensus-making, and long-term perspective are essential.  

If we take into account the fact that corporate boards play critical roles in companies —such as representing shareholders, approving and developing long-term strategies, measuring budget progress, and taking on the responsibility for the succession of CEOs— then incorporating leaders with diverse views and experiences is as necessary as it is urgent.


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