Women Largely Absent from Boards of Top Latin American Companies

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SAO PAULO – Women occupy only 6.4 percent of directorships at the 100 largest companies in Latin America, according to a study released on Friday at the Global Summit of Women, attended by 1,000 participants from more than 60 countries.The report, compiled by Corporate Women Directors International, or CWDI, shows that the female presence on Latin American corporate boards has increased only slightly since 2005, when the proportion was 5.1 percent.

European firms lead the world in the proportion of women directors, with 20 percent, followed by North America, with 19.2 percent, and the Asia-Pacific region, with 9.4 percent.

Forty-seven percent of the 100 largest companies in Latin America do not have a single woman board member, CWDI president Irene Natividad said at the gathering in Sao Paulo.

Among the regional corporate giants with no female representation at the highest level are Ambev, Itau Unibanco, Vale, America Movil, Cemex, Televisa and Banco de Chile.

“Latin American companies are falling behind regarding the promotion of women to leadership positions,” Natividad said.

Among Latin American countries, Colombia is at the head of the list with 13.4 percent of board seats at large companies occupied by women, more than twice the regional median, while Chile has the lowest proportion of female directors, 3.2 percent.

Women make up 6.3 percent of directors at the 42 Brazilian companies on the top-100 list.

Natividad noted that the Brazilian government is mulling the idea of requiring a minimum of 40 percent women board members at state-owned companies.

CWDI points to research showing that the most profitable companies are those with the largest presence of women in leadership position.