Parity: from an optional subject to a natural goal

Since 1987, March has been recognized as National Women’s History Month worldwide. As April approaches the 2023 calendar, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the vibrancy of the past few weeks, particularly on an issue that has taken center stage in current affairs: parity.

At the start of the month, the XI edition of the Report on Women on the Boards of the IBEX 35 and the VI Radiography of the Continuous Market was jointly published by ATREVIA and IESE Business School. The results of this year’s report provide a clear picture – Spanish companies are closer than ever to the 40% parity recommended by the Code of Good Governance of the CNMV for their board compositions. Although the suggested deadline for reaching this figure was set for the end of 2022, the current progression rate means this objective won’t be met until the end of 2025.

Despite the delay in achieving parity, there is still reason to celebrate. Spanish-listed companies now have a total of 390 female directors – 39 more than the previous year. The presence of women in central management bodies has also increased, with a relative weight of 32.37%. This figure is even higher in selective companies at 37.47%, bringing them very close to the 40% recommended by the CNMV’s Code of Good Governance.

While the IBEX remains the primary driving force behind the recorded advancements, companies outside the index are also making strides towards parity, with women now accounting for a plausible 29.48% of their boards.

Following the report’s release, just a few days before 8M, the Government announced the Parity Law, also known as the law of equal representation between men and women. This law establishes five new measures to ensure an increase in women’s presence in important decision-making roles in the country, both in the public sphere and private companies. The announcement of this law added to the buzz surrounding the analysis results.

Spanish companies are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of balancing their boards. They are making strategic decisions to increase gender diversity, an exercise in transparency that is being accompanied by an institutional determination to regulate this issue with specific dates and quotas that companies must comply with. This formalizes a commitment that companies have been progressively internalizing in recent years, as demonstrated in the latest editions of the ATREVIA & IESE report.

The reality is that it’s incoherent for companies not to advocate for diversity or ignore the competitive advantage of female leadership at all levels. Female leaders have demonstrated profitability and are essential for companies to show responsibility and gain validation from the society in which they operate. It’s simply not feasible for companies to ignore these aspects if they want to ensure their continuity.

In conclusion, this March has given us reason to be optimistic for the future. However, it’s important not to forget that there’s still much to be done. Although the gender gap on boards of directors is narrowing, the same cannot be said for higher-level bodies like executive committees. Women still lack initiatives for conciliation, training, and progression that would enable them to shatter the remaining glass ceilings. But as society becomes increasingly pluralistic and advanced, these barriers will disappear, as they no longer align with our values.

While there is still a long road ahead to achieve parity, we have an ideal environment to move towards it confidently and diligently. This momentum will only accelerate in the coming years.


Asun Soriano, CEO of ATREVIA

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