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​AP2 CEO: Female board representation still too low

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The proportion of women on the supervisory boards of Swedish companies is still too low, according to the head of the SEK335bn (€31.4bn) Swedish national pension fund AP2.

According to AP2’s latest Female Representation Index (Kvinnoindex) figures the percentage of women on the non-executive boards of firms listed on the NASDAQ Stockholm has risen only slightly, from 33.9% in 2018 to 34% in 2019.

Eva Halvarsson, chief executive of the Gothenburg-based pension fund, said: “In the last five years the yearly increases have been greater. So, while this is the highest recorded level and the proportion continues to grow, I hope that this trend will not stagnate, as 34% is still too low.”

The study, which the fund has conducted annually since 2003, also found that the proportion of women in executive positions increased to 24%, from 23.2% in 2018.

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Halvarsson said the figure was encouraging, adding that, for the first time, more than 10% of listed companies had a female board chair. In addition, the proportion of female chief executives rose 9%, from 8.4% last year.

The study also found that proportion of companies with at least 25% female board members had increased to 254 of the 332 companies involved. Newly elected women on supervisory boards tended to be younger than their male counterparts, it reported.

The 2019 Kvinnoindex covered 332 primary and secondary-listed companies on the NASDAQ Stockholm index.

A global study published by State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) earlier this year identified 1,265 companies that did not have a single female board member, up from 1,228 in 2017.

SSGA said that, from next year, it would vote against “the entire slate of board members” on nomination committees if a company does not have at least one woman on its board, and has failed to engage with the manager’s diversity project for three straight years.

Dutch and UK investors have also increased their focus on board diversity for companies and pension funds so far this year.

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