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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Women still make up less than a quarter of corporate boardrooms around the world despite global governance efforts to improve gender and cultural diversity within businesses.

Driving the news: Since 2015, the percentage of female board members across 3,000 companies globally has grown by 8.9 percentage points, to reach an average of 24%, according to a Credit Suisse study.

Why it matters: Recent data suggests that businesses with more diverse boards fared better during the pandemic, showing a strong correlation between board diversity and company performance.

The big picture: While there’s been debate around the financial benefits of board diversity, the general aim of increasing representation has been to expand boardroom culture

By the numbers: Globally, the U.S. ranks 17th out of 35 countries and regions in terms of female representation on boards (28%), a growth of 11% from 2015, according to the Credit Suisse Gender 3000 report.

  • France (45%), Sweden (40%), Italy (39%), Austria (39%) and Denmark (38%) took the top five spots. 
  • European regulators have put greater pressure on companies to improve gender diversity since at least 2004, whereas U.S. improvements have come more gradually as broader investor interest in ESG has developed, the report says.

What they’re saying: Boardroom diversity alone is not enough, the researchers write.

  • “We find the best-performing companies in terms of share price [have] superior diversity in both the boardroom and the C-Suite. Delivering on the former, but failing on the latter, erodes the ‘diversity premium,’” — which the report defines as valuation, higher returns on capital, higher margins and lower volatility.

What to watch: The SEC is now looking to propose board diversity disclosure regulations.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Oct 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

Credit Suisse pays $475 million in fines over Mozambique scandal

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was easy — far too easy — for Andrew Pearse, a Credit Suisse banker, to negotiate $45 million of kickbacks for himself as part of a deeply corrupt series of loan and bond issues in Mozambique.

Driving the news: That's the verdict of a major international fraud investigation that culminated Tuesday in the Swiss bank paying some $475 million in fines.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California, Oregon and Washington state.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

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