Leading Development Finance Institutions Commit to Advancing Boardroom Gender Parity

CDC Group and DEG sign on to join the Board Diversity Charter to galvanise business community to accelerate female representation in boardrooms across the globe

10 November 2021 – TheBoardroom Africa, Alitheia Capital and the 2X Collaborative are coming together today to announce the formation of the Board Diversity Charter, an initiative that will combine the power of leading global companies and investors to build and maintain diversity and equity in the boardroom.

As the world marks over 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action, companies and development finance institutions including CDC Group Plc, DEG, and Norsad Finance are taking action to make a meaningful, measurable, and lasting systemic impact on advancing women’s representation in leadership. Signatories of the Board Diversity Charter commit to maintaining boards of at least 30% women while striving to reach gender parity. They annually report on the status of their board composition and aim to broaden women’s equitable participation at all levels of company decision-making while fostering an environment that champions diversity, equity, and inclusion. Companies that have less than 30% women on their boards but intend to meet this quota within 2 years may also signal their support as Pledge Partners.

Gender diversity on boards is a strategic imperative, as evidence continues to demonstrate that companies with diverse boards enjoy better corporate governance, financial, risk management, and social return outcomes that perpetuate business success. A  2019 study by McKinsey & Company finds that organisations in the top quartile of gender diversity are more likely to outperform on profitability — 25% more likely for gender-diverse executive teams and 28% more likely for gender-diverse boards.

The initiative was founded by TheBoardroom Africa (TBR Africa) and Alitheia Capital,  two women-led organisations committed to advancing outcomes for women in the private sector and business, in partnership with 2X Collaborative, a global industry body that convenes the entire spectrum of investors to promote gender-lens investing. TheBoardroom Africa is the region’s largest community of board-ready female executives while Alitheia is a gender-lens investing pioneer.

CDC Group and DEG, two major development finance institutions (DFIs), are among the first organisations to sign on to the Charter. In 2020, CDC Group made £1.22 billion in new commitments to businesses in Africa and has now invested in almost 1,200 businesses that directly employ nearly 952,000 people. In 2020, companies co-financed by DEG employed over 2.3 million people and generated local income of EUR 120 billion. Both institutions are also inaugural members of Board Diversity Charter partner 2X Collaborative, a global gender finance initiative that convenes and equips investors with the resources they need to increase the volume and impact of capital directed towards women’s economic empowerment. Other Charter signatories include Norsad Finance, FCMB, Falcon Corporation Limited, The Water Trust, and Woodside Africa Group, among others.

Marcia Ashong, TBR Africa CEO; Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director of Alitheia Capital; and  Jen Braswell and Jessica Espinoza, Co-Chairs of the 2X Collaborative, will serve on the initiative’s inaugural Charter Committee.

Marcia Ashong, Founder and CEO of TheBoardroom Africa said: “By launching the Board Diversity Charter, we’re telling the world that diversity is not a nice-to-have. It’s a need-to-have. Diversity reflects the reality of our world. A diverse, inclusive board not only sets the tone for management but also for shareholders, investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders. The knowledge and skills that diverse candidates can bring are essential to enhancing business performance in an increasingly uncertain world.”

Tokunboh Ishmael, Founder and Managing Director of Alitheia Capital said:Alitheia is pleased with the launch of the Board Diversity Charter and focus on diversity in the boardroom where key decisions to drive profitability and sustainability are made. This underpins the fact that diversity is both a moral obligation and economic imperative. Serious companies recognise the need to be intentional about diversity for effective decision making, stronger corporate governance and greater innovation to ensure superior returns to all stakeholders.”

Jen Braswell and Jessica Espinoza, Co-Chairs of the 2X Collaborative, said: “Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that women directors are key to corporate value creation and innovation. The 2X Collaborative is proud to support the launch of the Board Diversity Charter because boards are at their best when they have a diversity of perspectives represented.”

The Board Diversity Charter recently debuted an interactive toolkit for boardroom leaders that provides a comprehensive overview of the business case for diversity and inclusion and includes a roadmap for improving boardroom diversity. Access the Board Diversity Toolkit here.

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