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Women in Mexican boards: There is progress, but quite slow

This week, to commemorate the International Women’s Day, I want to share our updated annual analysis of gender equality in Mexican boards.

Progress, but quite slow

Gender equality in Mexican boards is little changed since last year. A few companies in the S&P/BMV IPC index have made some progress over the past couple of years (notably ASUR going from 0% participation of women in 2019 to 18% in 2021, the BMV going from 0% participation of women in 2018 to 14% in 2021, and Volaris going from 0% participation of women in 2018 to 14% in 2019), but the overall level of women on boards just increased to 10% vs 9% last year in March.

Furthermore, looking just at women who are independent members of these boards, the female participation decreases to a mere 4% (vs. 3%% in 2020 and 2019).

And despite investor pressures on ESG and specifically on gender parity, there are still 9 companies in this group that have no women on the board at all. These include some quite visible and quite relevant large caps (ALFA, Banorte, Coca-Cola FEMSA). This is not an isolated phenomenon in Mexico; actually, 26.4% of the MSCI EM index constituents have all male boards. By contrast, all 500 members of the S&P 500 have had at least one woman on the board for at least a year now.

Mexico’s S&P/BMV IPC Constituents – Women on boards

 Source: Company reports, Miranda ESG

With respect to new board members (those appointed in 2021), our survey shows a net increase of 5 women board members across the sample. This compares to a net increase of 4 board members in total across the sample. This suggests some progress is being made, but it seems quite slow.

As more investors and even stock exchanges raise their voice on gender equality in boards, it is quite puzzling to see how slow this moves in the group of the 35 most visible, most liquid stocks in the Mexican markets.

On a positive note, two companies in this group (FEMSA and Cemex) recently announced some changes to their corporate governance practices which could potentially improve how boards are composed over time. Both companies are eliminating slate voting for board members, among other measures focused on improving board governance. We believe eliminating slate voting will improve board member accountability (especially for independent board members, which many times serve in different boards and could start to depend more on their reputation for these positions), and we also believe this will be important for gender equality. Why? Well, simply put, because some investors (like BNP Paribas for instance) have voting policies in place which state they will oppose all male candidates in a board that has no women.

As market leaders start to push boundaries for governance practices, it is likely smaller companies will eventually follow. And if the market overall starts to have better practices regarding independent members of the board (for nomination, compensation, performance monitoring), we think this eventually will make Mexican boards more similar to those in other more developed markets.

We look forward to seeing more progress over 2022 as many companies are yet to announce their new boards. If anything materially changes, we will keep you posted. And congratulations to Regional and Televisa for appointing their first female board member in 2021. Let’s hope other all-male holdouts follow in their steps next year.

I hope you found this interesting. As usual, if there is anything we can help you with, please reach out.

Best,

Marimar and Damian

Miranda ESG

P.S. On methodology: For 2018 and 2019 our data comes from annual reports. For 2020 and 2021, data comes from annual reports (when already available) or from the latest available data on company websites. As companies differ in when and how they report board changes, in some cases the changes over years may not always be strictly comparable between companies. We identify woman board members by their first name and, when available, additional gender information provided. This may not always be accurate. We exclude alternative directors. We have rounded up decimal points to the nearest integer. Our goal is to give us a rough indication of board composition, and this is not a rigorous academic study. Should anyone want to receive a copy of our data base of board members please email us and we will be happy to share. And if you detect any inaccuracies please let us know and we will correct them.

Appendix: More interesting data

Source: Company reports, Miranda ESG

Contacts at Miranda Partners

Damian Fraser
Miranda Partners
damian.fraser@miranda-partners.com

Ana María Ybarra Corcuera
Miranda-IR
ana.ybarra@miranda-ir.com

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