Top Companies Urged to Give Women More Roles in Leadership

Article excerpt

Washington, Sept. 23 (AFP) -- A leading group of international businesswomen on Friday called on the world's 200 biggest male-dominated companies to step up efforts to give women more leadership roles in large corporations.

Although the number of women on corporate boards in Fortune Global 200 companies increased from 285 to 308 since 2004, men still hold the lion's share of board seats, with nearly 89 percent, a report issued by Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) showed.

Little progress has been made to ensure boardroom equality of the sexes, the report, which

followed up on a similar study conducted in 2004, lamented.

"If over 80 percent of buying decisions are being made by women -- from cars to tires to food to technology to energy -- why wouldn't you have them represented in your company?" CWDI chairwoman Irene Natividad said to AFP, urging corporations to rectify the situation.

The eight countries with the largest cluster of 2006 Fortune Global 200 companies -- the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy -- have all made progress in appointing women directors since 2004, the report said.

"However, the majority of the largest companies in Japan, Korea, Italy, Venezuela, Russia and China, for instance, still do not have women directors," it said.

Japan, the second biggest economy in the world, lagged far behind the United States, whose companies led the list of those empowering women executives.

In the 27 Japanese companies on the Fortune listing, only five board members out of 389 were women, making for a meager 1.3 percent.

In the United States, women account for 166 of the 941 board members in firms on the Fortune Global 200 listing, or 17. …