The Board Diversity Dilemma: Pushing Beyond the Shortfalls


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As companies aim to diversify their boardrooms, the slow advancement and persistent gender disparities remain concerning. Insights from The Clean Technology Compensation Report 2023 further highlight the ongoing need for gender equity in board composition.



  1. Female Representation is Caught in Amber
  2. Policy Bias Across Sectors: The Need for Diversity
  3. Board Diversity Rewards Stockholders and Stakeholders
  4. Maintaining a Competitive Compensation Strategy
  5. Future Directions for Board Recruitment

Female Representation is Caught in Amber

Recent years have witnessed a near standstill in female representation across Cleantech boards. According to Bedford’s 2023 analysis of 155 North American Cleantech companies, only 23.8% of board members identified as female in 2022, similar to 24% in 2021.

While this represents a 2% increase from 2020 levels, the lack of momentum is notable. Only 9.8% of board chairs or lead directors identified as female compared to 9.7% in 2021.

Analyzing data across various industries shows a mixed rate of progress. In technology and finance sectors, where female board representation is about 25%, there’s a noticeable increase. However, the overall low representation highlights a pressing need for change.

The demand for more diverse corporate boards has significantly grown in the United States and Europe. Leading asset managers now oppose re-electing directors if insufficient efforts are made to include women on corporate boards. Despite this, progress has been slow. Women’s representation on the boards of large, publicly traded companies only grew from 15.5% in 2013 to 25.1% in 2021 across 50 jurisdictions.

Policy Bias Across Sectors: The Need for Diversity

The disparity in representation is more pronounced in certain sectors. In traditionally male-dominated fields, such as mining and energy, the gap widens, with female representation lagging behind. Conversely, industries with a stronger emphasis on direct social connection, such as healthcare and education, tend to show more equitable patterns, suggesting the influence of sector-specific norms and values on board diversity practices.

Board Diversity Rewards Stockholders and Stakeholders

The Bedford Group Transearch’s 2023 Clean Technology Compensation Report highlights how board diversity can potentially reduce risk-taking, enhance firm innovation, and increase overall firm value.

There’s also a strong assertion that board diversity is a key factor in delivering shareholder value. Citing Morgan Stanley research, the report notes that return on equity for companies with strong female leadership is 36.4% higher than companies without a critical mass of women on their boards.

The report emphasizes the need for measures to enhance diversity, including creating a board skills matrix, exploring non-traditional recruitment sources, and imposing board member term limits to encourage board rejuvenation.

Maintaining a Competitive Compensation Strategy

To attract top board directors, it’s essential to understand how your competition compensates them and either match or exceed it. Competitive compensation is a key factor in attracting high-quality talent, as it reflects the value of their strategic contributions.

Top candidates get snapped up quickly. You may only have one shot at the director that’s the perfect fit for your board. It’s crucial to get the offer right on the first try.

Competitive compensation signals a commitment to excellence, encouraging high-caliber individuals to join and elevate your organization.

Future Directions for Board Recruitment: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Culture

The push to establish equitable and diverse boardrooms, both in membership and compensation, is ongoing. Although data suggests some progress, the wage gap among women board members underscores the necessity of strategic action to remove systemic obstacles and promote truly inclusive corporate governance.


For a fresh take on board diversity, minority inclusion, Cleantech sector executive and board compensation, committee compensation, risk management and other related topics, download The Bedford Group Transearch’s Clean Technology Compensation Report 2023.

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