Gender is one of the more emphasised forms of diversity in the boardroom. Historically, corporate boardrooms have largely been a male consortium. In recent years, this practice has been challenged as many companies, boards and shareholders have recognised the benefits of having a gender-balanced boardroom.
In South Africa, approximately 19% of JSE-listed companies have women directors with 6.9% being board chairpersons. Per a recent Deloitte global survey, South Africa ranks fourth globally for the percentage of board chairs that are women, against a global average of 4%. The low numbers indicate that we are dealing with a global problem of exclusion of women.
Europe and, in particular, the Scandinavian countries have opted for quotas of women which I believe should be practice in South Africa.
Ethnic diversity pertains to having a mix of individuals from various racial, cultural and religious backgrounds. The ethnic mix of a board should ideally represent the area in which the company operates.