Women’s management in Portuguese listed companies below Europe

  • ECO News
  • 23 October 2019

The number of women in the board of listed companies has been increasing, but is still at the threshold of the law. It is below public enterprises and the European average.

Portugal is among the countries with the lowest number of women on the boards of the largest listed companies in Europe. There are only 24.8% women among the directors of the listed companies, which despite the improvements is below the average of 27.8% of the 28 countries of the European Union.

These are the first conclusions of the Women on Boards – Portugal’s project, which this Wednesday presented to journalists its “WoBómetro” that measures gender parity in listed companies.

Sara Falcão Casaca, a teacher at ISEG and one of the project leaders, explains that there has been “progress” in Portugal since the introduction of the balanced representation of women and men in senior positions regime. The law determines that there is at least 20% of the gender under-represented in both management and supervisory bodies (measured separately) and applies to members elected at shareholders’ general meetings (GA) since 2018.

“However, it should be noted that there is still an under-representation of women in top management positions in listed companies”, not only in Portugal but also in Europe. The European average is 12 percentage points below the minimum parity threshold (40%). Above this barrier, between EU countries, there is only France which – like other countries such as Iceland or Norway – has had a specific law in force for eight years.

Among the 39 companies listed on the Lisbon Stock Exchange to which the law applies, there are 444 members of the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board. In the administrations, there are 22% women and in the supervisory bodies 26%. But it is mainly among non-executive directors that the reinforcement has been made in the last seven years.

Closing the analysis in 17 of the 18 listed in the PSI-20 (EDP Renováveis has its head office in Madrid and is therefore outside the scope of the law), there are 244 members of the board of directors and supervisory board. In the former bodies, there are 25% women and in the latter, 30%. On average, listed companies comply with the limit established by law, but will have to make new changes since, in January 2020, the minimum rises to 33.3%.

There is only one woman as chairman of an administrative body – Paula Amorim, at Galp – and one woman as chairman of an executive committee – Cláudia Azevedo, at Sonae.