2016 CWDI Report on Women Board Directors of Latin America’s 100 Largest Companies

2016 Lat Am2016 CWDI Report on Women Board Directors of Latin America’s 100 Largest Companies

The 2016 CWDI Report on Women Board Directors of Latin America focuses on the 100 largest companies in the region. The study found that women held 7.3% of board seats in Latin America.



  • Women remain locked out of the board rooms of Latin America’s largest companies.

Men hold 92.7% of board positions on the Boards of Directors of the 100 largest companies in the region, leaving women only 7.3% of board seats.

  • In the past 11 years, the percentage of women board directors has increased a paltry 2.2%.

In 2005, 5.1% of board seats were held by women, rising to 5.8% in 2012, before reaching 7.3% in 2016.  Eleven years from CWDI’s first study in the region, the needle has barely moved.

  • Half (50) of the 100 largest companies have no women board members.

Ambev, Itau Unibanco, Televisa, Cielo, Vale and Grupo Mexico are among the largest companies with all-male boards.

  • Of the 50 companies with at least one woman director, the majority (31) have only one woman.

15 companies have two women board members and only four have reached the point of “critical mass” of three or more women directors, where the participation of women on boards begins to affect the board’s discussions.

  • Colombia is the regional leader in placing women in corporate board seats.

16.2% of board directorships in Colombia’s top companies are held by women, more than twice the regional average.  In second place in Latin America, Chilean companies’ boards consist of 7.8% women’s representation, while Brazil (6.3%) and Mexico (6.1%) are below the regional average.

  • Walmex has the highest percentage of women directors among the largest companies in the region.

Walmex leads the region’s largest companies with 38.6% women directors (4 women out of 11 total directors).  Colombian utility company EEB is second with 37.5%.  Chilean retailer Falabella and Banco do Brasil Securidade tie for third highest percentage with 33.3%.  Of the 13 companies with the five highest percentages, six are from Colombia, five from Brazil, and one each from Mexico and Chile.

  • A significant number of women serving on boards have family ties to the company.

Over ¼ (28.4%) of the 74 women on the boards of the companies in the study are family members of relatives leading the companies.  This is particularly true in Brazil and Mexico with almost 40% of women directors in each country have family ties, whereas no Colombian woman director is a family member.

  • Latin America lags behind other regions in appointing women to corporate boards.

At 7.3%, the percentage of women directors in Latin America pales in comparison to Northern Europe (34.4%), Western Europe (22.6%), US/Canada (20.4%), Eastern Europe (15.5%), Africa (14.4%) and Asia-Pacific (9.4%).

  • Globally, gender diversity on corporate boards is beginning to accelerate, but not in Latin America.

Over the past decade the percentage of women directors of the Fortune Global 200 has increased from 10.4% to 17.8% (2015 CWDI Report on Women Board Directors of Fortune Global 200: 2004-2014), an increase of 7.4 percentage points, compared to Latin America’s 2.2 percent increase.

  • The absence of public or private sector initiatives to increase the number of women directors in the region is causing Latin American companies to fall further behind their global peers.

As quotas for women on boards have spread from Europe to parts of Asia and the Middle East, 22 countries with mandates requiring board seats to be held by women have seen increases of over 30% women-held board appointments in just five years.

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