GLOBAL – The UK’s 30 Club – which targets a 30% goal of women on boards by 2015 – is expanding globally.

Following a 30% Club launched in Hong Kong in March, a Southern Africa 30% Club is expected to be launched soon.

Further clubs are planned for the US, Canada and Ireland later in 2013.

Su-Mei Thompson, chief executive at the Women’s Foundation and founder of the 30% Club Hong Kong, said at the 30% global summit in London yesterday: “Our launch was driven by a realisation that greater diversity at executive and non-executive levels leads to more effective decision-making, enhanced customer affinity and better business performance.

“The Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s introduction of new board diversity policy disclosure requirements for listed companies in conjunction with the launch of the 30% Club HK are a powerful impetus for change.”

The summit also heard how tougher corporate governance rules – namely a gender diversity reporting code, together with a traffic light reporting system on companies – helped increase the percentage of women in board positions in Australia from 8.4% in 2009 to 14% in March 2013.

Fiona Hathorn, managing director at Women on Boards UK, said: “Targets work, targets are good for business and targets drive results.”

Although the 30% Club promotes a voluntary approach and is against introducing quotas in the EU, Benedicte Schilbred Fasmer, director of business development and investor relations at private equity firm Argentum Fondsinvesteringer, said that although she did not want to fulfil a quota, quotas worked in Norway.

However, although non-executive roles are filled with more women in the country, there is still a long way to go for women in senior executive roles, she admitted.

In North America, without a clear objective, progress has stalled. Over the past 18 years, the percentage of women on the boards of Fortune 500 companies has increased at less than half a percentage point per year, from 9.6% in 1995 to 16.6% today.

As part of its efforts to accelerate the progression of women in the pipeline, the 30% Club also announced a new fully funded executive MBA scholarship in partnership with Henley Business School.

The recipient of this £34,000 (€39,690) scholarship will be the winner of an essay competition entitled ‘What are the key challenges to creating a gender balance at all levels in organisations?’.