Numbers of Dutch female executive directors fall in 2017

The latest Dutch Female Board Index shows that the total numbers of female executive directors and the number of companies with female directors has fallen in the year to 31st August 2017 compared with the previous year.

The study of  85 Dutch listed companies found that of the 209 total executive directors 13 of them were female (6.2%) compared with 15 out of 212 (7.1%)  in 2016 and 16 out of 206 (7.8%) in 2015.  The number of companies with a female executive director dropped from 14 (17%) in 2016 to just 12 in 2017 (14% of all 85 companies).

As the report noted the two-tier model of corporate governance is dominant in the Netherlands. For the purposes of the study, the directors who are members of the executive board are defined as executive directors while supervisory board members have been defined as non-executive directors. The number of female directors has risen overall to 126 out of 669 directors (18.8%) in 2017, compared with 117 out of 653 17.9% in 2016.

Dutch female executive directors

Numbers of Dutch female executive directors falls

This increase has been due to the rise in the number of female non-executive directors which reached 113 out of a total of 460 (24.6%) non-executive directors this year compared with 102 out of 441 (23.1%) in 2016.

The index showed that food giant Unilever, which had topped the ranking for the number of female directors on its boards for the previous three years, had been pushed down to fourth by technology company Wolters Kluwer, alcoholic beverages company Lucas Bols and chemicals firm Akzo Nobel. At Wolters Kluwer 50% of the executive directors and 42.9% of the non-executive directors are women, a combined percentage of 44.4%. Lucas Bols and Akzo Nobel both had a combined percentage of 40%. All companies in the top
ten exceeded 30% for the combined executive and non-executive board.

Dutch companies have a target to meet achieve a 30% composition of female directors in both boards by 2020. This year six companies (2016:2) meet the target for both boards, Wolters Kluwer, BAM, DSM, PostNL, AkzoNobel and Heineken. Nine companies (2016:9) are in compliance with the Dutch 30 percent gender target in the executive
board. 30 companies are in compliance with the quota of 30% for the supervisory board.

Across the EU a target was set in 2012 for 40% of non-executive directors to be female by the beginning of 2020. The study found that 10 companies (2016: 12) were in compliance with the EU 40 percent in the supervisory board, all have more than 40% female non-executive directors and comply with the EU-quota proposal. Only two companies complied with both the Dutch quota law and the EU-quota law.

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