More than half of Egypt’s listed companies have at least one member in their Board of Directors that is female, as of 31 July 2020, compared to 47% in 2019.
Despite the rise, the fact that it is so slight indicates that more effort is still needed by companies listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) to increase female representation at Board level.
The figures were outlined in the Board Diversity Index, a new report released by TheBoardroom Africa (TBRA), in partnership with the Women on Boards Observatory at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and the EGX.
The index tracks the number of listed companies’ boards by country, and identifies all board seats filled by women. At the same time, it also monitors the number of women filling Chairperson and other executive positions. Research to date covers publicly listed boards across 11 African countries, including Egypt.
As of July 2020, among the 242 EGX-listed companies, women hold only 10.8% of board seats. Although this figure represents a 0.7% increase in 2019, the Board Diversity Index shows that women are rarely included in the governance and management of some of Egypt’s most notable companies.
Key sectors assessed in the 2020 Board Diversity Index include, but are not limited to: banks; energy; industrial goods; shipping; textiles; travel and leisure; and utilities.
Amongst these sectors, the textile and durables sectors have the highest percentage of female board directors, with two out of eight companies having more than 30% of their director positions filled by women.
However, in terms of the aggregate number of women, the energy and support services sector outperforms all sectors, with 23% of all directors in the energy sector being female. “Women hold 10.8% of the board seats of the EGX-listed companies, with an increase of 0.7% from 2019,” according to the report.
The report said that 53% of companies have at least one woman on their boards, compared to 47% in 2019.
It showed that 10.3% of EGX listed companies ranked as “top performers” with respect to gender diversity, with 30% or more of their board seats held by women. The top three performers, with 60% of their board positions held by women, are: First Investment Company and Real Estate Development; Marine & Oil Services (SAE); and El Orouba Securities Brokerage.
Meanwhile, the report showed that women make up 3.9% of CEOs/Managing Directors, 8.7% of COOs, and 2.1% of CFOs, on Egypt’s listed boards.
Commenting on the role of stock exchanges in promoting gender diversity, Mohamed Farid, Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange, said, “The EGX is fully committed and aware of the impact that greater inclusivity could have in building competitive, value-creating companies and therefore resilient and inclusive economies.”
“To that end, we have collaborated with the AUC Women on Board Observatory to promote stronger board governance for listed companies, build a Board Ready Women database, offer board placement services to listed companies, develop an annual monitoring report for women on boards as well as providing corporate governance awareness and training programmes,” Farid added.
He noted that these programmes are designed to embed a gender component to highlight the benefits of board diversity. Moving on to close the gender gap, all listed companies are now required to put at least one woman on their boards, he added
Commenting on the methodology, Marcia Ashong, Founder and CEO of TBRA, said: “TheBoardroom Africa has undertaken a robust analysis of boardroom gender diversity in Egypt and 11 other African states over the past three years, by analysing board composition through public declarations of executives and officers.”
She added, “This year, we’re delighted to count the Women on Boards Observatory and the Egyptian Exchange as partners who understand the strong link between gender diversity and good corporate governance.”
Over the last decade, Egyptian women have made significant strides in access to rights, education, and the labour market.
While Egyptian universities turn out more female graduates than male, those gains have failed to translate to equitable representation in the workforce and at the highest level of leadership, the boardroom.
Ghada Howaidy, Founder of the Women on Boards Observatory and Associate Dean for Executive Education and External Relations at AUC’s School of Business, noted the significance of the 2020 Board Diversity Index.
She said, “Good corporate governance helps firms improve performance, drive growth, and manage risk.”
Howaidy also said that, to be truly effective, a board requires a diversity of skills and perspectives. The Board Diversity Index shows that many EGX-listed companies are true gender diversity champions, but that there is still much work to be done.