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Swiss firms rank low in European ‘Gender Diversity Index’

Philomena Colatrella has been the chief executive officer of CSS Insurance since 2016. Switzerland has the second-lowest score for female CEOs, the study found.​​​​​​ Fabian Biasio

The proportion of women in leading positions at major European companies rose slightly last year but progress is slow, according to a new study that compares 19 countries. Switzerland was ranked near the bottom of the 2021 “Gender Diversity Index”.

Female representation at board level in Europe rose by one percentage point to 35% in 2021 after a similar rise a year earlier, according to a studyExternal link by the Brussels-based organisation European Women on Boards (EWOB), which analysed 668 top European listed companies included in the STOXX 600 index and national benchmarks.

The average Gender Diversity Index (GDI) score across all companies surveyed improved by 5%. At this rate it looks unlikely that firms will meet a European Commission proposed target of 40% for 2025, the organisation said.

Firms based in France, Norway and Britain led the ranking of 19 countries, while Switzerland was fourth from bottom, followed by Poland, Luxembourg and Greece.

In all, 53 Swiss firms were assessed. Switzerland has the third-lowest percentage of women on committees and the second-lowest score for female CEOs, the study found. Female chief executive officers were employed in only 2% of the Swiss companies surveyed.

The Zurich Insurance Group, Lonza, the Dufry Group, Logitech International and Adecco topped the Swiss ranking.

In general, progress is slow across all firms, the NGO said. In the second year of the pandemic, only 7% of the 668 companies’ chief executives were women, according to the study, after a jump from 4.7% to 6% between 2019 and 2020.

The NGO calculates its GDI based on four weightings: the absolute share of women in leadership positions; the share of women on executive boards; the share of women at executive level and the share of women on committees. An index is then calculated using these weightings, ranging from zero to one (the ideal 50-50 representation).

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