A recent report published by Prönö, the latest startup launched by entrepreneur Helene Auramo, reveals some disappointing statistics about the boards of Finland’s listed companies.
According to the study, only 27 percent of board members are women and just 7 percent of board chairpersons are women. Additionally, only 6 percent of board members were born in the 1980s or 1990s, even though their share of the workforce is quite significant. However, according to information gathered by Prönö, women and young professionals are indeed interested in joining these corporate boards – and enhancing diversity in the process.
According to the study, a typical board member of a listed company is a 56-year-old Finnish man. Only 27 percent of board members are under the age of 50. There are currently no women on the boards of 17 companies, and boards with only one woman or no women at all oversee 49 percent of listed companies in Finland.
“We need more diversity, more women and younger people on boards, but also people of different nationalities and with different skills. Not all board members need to be CEOs, CFOs or business directors,” says Helene Auramo, CEO of Prönö and one of the founders of Slush.
Young women rarely get on board
Although people under the age of 40 make up a large proportion of the working-age population in Finland, only 6 percent of the members of the board represent that age group. Board work is demanding in nature and often requires substantial experience. However, professionals under the age of 40 still have much to offer to corporate boards, including their new kinds of expertise, which can be particularly valuable for the success of companies.
“Many boards do not have members under the age of 40 or even under the age of 50, and 75 percent of boards operate without any contribution from millennials. The perspectives brought by different age groups should be seen as a valuable thing. Looking to the future, it makes sense for more young professionals to be on boards,” says Auramo. “I myself am one of the youngest women on the board of a listed company in Finland. In general, women under the age of 40 are rarely seen on boards unless, for example, there is family ownership.”
Diversity can be built in many ways
Quotas are often proposed as one solution to the lack of diversity on boards. Norway has had a gender quota since 2008, according to which 40 percent of board seats must be held by women. France has also instituted the same quota, and its impact has been quite effective there. Since the introduction of the quota in 2011, the proportion of women on France’s corporate boards had already risen to 44% by 2020, according to a study by the Iza Institute.
According to Auramo, it is also possible to bring diversity to boards by other means. New role models for listed company boards are needed so that women and young people can begin to see opportunities on boards as viable possibilities. In the meantime, finding those professionals who are interested in board seats should also be made easier.
“I’ve heard many stories about women and young people supposedly not wanting to join boards. This is simply not the case. Women using the Prönö platform make it very clear that they are interested in board and advisory positions,” says Auramo.
On the Prönö platform, people can indicate on their profile if they are interested in joining a board or advisory board. In addition to those interested in board positions, mentors, sparrers and consultants can also be found on Prönö. The platform includes entrepreneurs, leaders, creative professionals and freelancers – but also dentists, researchers and architects, for example. Joining Prönö is free of charge, and on the platform, you can start looking for new board members or show others that you feel ready to join a board.