A workshop titled “25% Target: Building an Inclusive Board” was hosted by the Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) in collaboration with the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) and Mont Choisy Group on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, at the Mont Choisy Golf Restaurant. This workshop aligns with the ongoing efforts stemming from the 2023-2024 Budget; its objective was to convene publicly listed companies from SEM markets to devise tangible strategies to achieve the objective of having 25% women representation on boards of directors.
Sheila Ujoodha, CEO of MIoD, emphasized, “The MIoD is fully committed to supporting and assisting publicly traded companies in reaching the crucial 25% threshold of women on their boards. We have positioned ourselves as the preferred partner for this transition, bolstered by support from our partners, including SEM and the Mont Choisy Group. Our collaborative endeavors, along with existing initiatives such as the Women Directors’ Forum and the Path to Boardroom, which amplify the presence of female candidates for board positions, aim to cultivate an environment that fosters inclusion and diversity. Balanced gender representation on boards equips them to address current and future challenges, encourage innovation, and sustain high performance. At present, 35% of the 1607 members of the MIoD are women. Through our initiatives, 173 women have gained board-level experience. Furthermore, we are assisting 280 women in their journey towards board positions, providing them with the necessary experience for leadership roles.”
The keynote speaker, Jeremy Stockdale, CEO and Founder of YLead, a consultancy specializing in leadership, underlined that achieving these objectives requires a long-term perspective. His expertise highlighted pathways that companies listed on the Mauritian stock markets can adopt to facilitate the shift in their board compositions, ensuring tangible and meaningful changes.
On the SEM front, 20% of the companies listed on Mauritius’ stock exchanges meet the 25% women representation criterion on their boards of directors. SEM regards this measure positively, as it will help bridge the gaps in board representation and trigger a transformation in the established norms by encouraging better gender balance, avoiding mere symbolic gestures.
Mauritius has climbed from 110th place in 2021 to 93rd place in 2023 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, a testament to the efforts of MIoD and stakeholders. With this decision, Mauritius is aligning with global advancements, recognizing that there’s still significant work ahead. For instance, by the end of June 2026, major publicly traded companies within the European Union must take actions to amplify female representation at the leadership level. The “Women on Boards” directive aims for at least 40% of non-executive positions or 33% of all executive positions to be occupied by women by the end of June 2026.
Companies yet to reach the recommended threshold can draw on MIoD’s collaboration and resources. The institute firmly believes that the goals of diversity and inclusion are within reach.
Jeremy Stockdale, CEO and Founder of YLead, took the stage, stressing that a sustained commitment is essential, not just for representation but also for tackling systemic issues that have contributed to the lack of diversity. Once boards are diversified, leveraging the advantages of this diversity through inclusion becomes the focus. A diverse board introduces a wider range of perspectives and decision-making approaches. Unique viewpoints bring forth innovative ideas, solutions, and strategies. As board diversity deepens, the scope of experiences contributing to strategic decision-making broadens.
Globally, board diversity, though progressing slowly, is on the rise. In 2022, global representation of women on boards reached 31.3%, according to the MSCI All Country World Index. During the same year, 38% of companies on this list had at least 30% of their board seats occupied by women. However, it’s important to note that while boards have grown more diverse, they don’t necessarily become more inclusive.
Sunil Benimadhu, Chief Executive of SEM, emphasized that diversity, including gender diversity, must no longer be overlooked in board composition. It’s justified both in terms of performance and representative equality. Statistics from various international studies unequivocally demonstrate that companies with strong female representation, both in leadership and on boards, tend to achieve better financial performance. Establishing diverse and inclusive boards also leads to benefits in innovation, productivity, governance, fraud prevention, corruption combat, and employee motivation.
Jyoti Jeetun, CEO of Mont Choisy Group, acknowledged the progress achieved so far but pointed out that women remain underrepresented in corporate leadership. She welcomed the measure imposing the 25% women representation threshold on boards of directors, expressing hope for significant change with its introduction. Investors increasingly recognize the benefits of diverse boards, particularly with greater female representation. Numerous studies highlight the impact of women on decision-making and their positive influence on financial performance. To drive true gender equality, promoting meritocracy and formulating inclusive policies that encompass social and ethnic aspects are essential. Companies need to build a pool of talent and secure commitment from leadership for increased female and ethnic group participation on boards, avoiding tokenism.