The percentage of women on boards of directors in Brazil doubled from 2014 to 2020, according to a survey by recruitment consultancy Korn Ferry. The rate, however, is still low: only 14% of the members are women, against 7% at the beginning of the survey.
The survey, which has been carried out since 2013, analyzed 639 positions in 81 companies last year.
Considering only the independent members of the councils, the percentage observed in 2020 rises to 20%, a significant advance when compared to the 11% registered just two years before.
Even so, Brazil is still far behind the United States, where the rate of women in councils is 25%. In Europe, this percentage is even higher (30%).
According to Jorge Maluf, a senior analyst at the consultancy, the role of women has grown in all profiles of boards of directors, but the percentage is more representative among independent members, those who are not linked to the owners of the companies.
Maluf points out that the increase in the presence of women, especially in the seats of independents, follows the trend of greater professionalization and governance in these spaces. In 2014, four out of ten directors in Brazil were independent. In 2020, that number rose to six out of ten.
“Companies are no longer appointing women from control groups, that is, women who are members of the family. They are looking for women in the market, ”he says. “In the case of recruiting counselors, clients have asked us to select more women.”
According to the survey, there are more women on company boards with net revenues above R $ 15 billion, dispersed capital and better governance practices.
Among the councils analyzed by the survey, only three women serve as president – Luiza Trajano (Magazine Luiza), Ana Maria Marcondes Penido Sant’Anna (CCR) and Patricia Bentes (Melhoramentos).
Of the three presidents, Bentes is the only independent director. Since 2016, she has been on eight boards of companies such as Light, CEG, Renova, Cemig and Vale and currently chairs the board of Melhoramentos, which operates in the pulp and paper, editorial and real estate segments.
The executive says that more and more technical choices favor the entry of women into these spaces. For her, the entry of Maria Silvia Bastos Marques in the presidency of BNDES (National Bank for Economic and Social Development) in 2016 was a watershed in the participation of women in councils in Brazil.
“She established that no director appointed by the BNDES in its investees would be an employee, a political nominee or have any ties to the bank. Everyone should be independent. Naturally, when we started looking for a professional with training for the council, more women appeared ”, she says.
In addition to the increased participation of women, another challenge for councils is racial diversity. To change this situation, a group of nine women, three of whom were black, formed Counselors 101 — Ana Beatrix Trejos, Ana Paula Pessoa, Elisangela Almeida, Graciema Bertoletti, Jandaraci Araujo, Leila Loria, Lisiane Lemos, Marienne Coutinho and Patrícia Molino.
Between August and December, the initiative organized ten training meetings with 20 black leaders. Of this group, four started to occupy positions in councils –Roberta Anchieta (member of Ânima’s fiscal council); Ana Fontes (Plan internacional and Instituto Avon); Lisiane Lemos (Kunumi and Council Emeritus of Conscious Capitalism Brazil) and Jandaraci Araujo (Kunumi and CIEE-SP).
Executive in the area of sustainability, Jandaraci Araujo is one of the black women who co-founded Conselheiras 101. In 2020, she both formatted the project and participated in mentoring and is already organizing the second edition of the training scheduled for the middle of the year.
“O IBGC [Instituto Brasileiro de Governança Corporativa] e a WCD [Women Corporate Directors] have a diversity program in councils. At the time, they published photos of the previous classes and there were only white women. We questioned them and today they are our partners along with the KPMG consultancy. We started to work with the objective of showing the market that there are black women qualified to be on boards ”, he says.