Governance & leadership

ICC leaders recognised for work to boost representation of women on boards

  • 14 November 2023

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has paid tribute to the groundbreaking work of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Chair Maria Fernanda Garza and ICC Executive Board Member Candace Johnson to put more women on boards.

On the eve of the Global Board Ready Women Leadership Conference in Brussels last week, Ms von der Leyen met Ms Garza and Ms Johnson and thanked them for their tireless work to advance gender equality on corporate boards worldwide, including at ICC.

ICC’s 27-member Executive Board is the most gender diverse in ICC’s history with 48% women representation surpassing an initial target of 40%. ICC also scores high on regional diversity with women members from Africa, B-MENA, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Ms Garza said:

“Getting more women on boards is not just good for women, it’s good for business. I’m proud of the progress we have made at ICC to achieve our targets and to ensure the ICC board is as diverse and representative as the businesses we enable.”

The Global Board Ready Women Leadership Conference aimed to examine the impact of the European Union Gender Equality Law 2026 which directs to have 40% women among non-executive directors or 33% among all directors by 2026.

Ms von der Leyen said:

“Gender equality doesn’t just happen. It requires constant work and attention. Initiatives like Global Board Ready Women prove there are plenty of qualified women for top jobs. In the same time, the EU’s new directive creates conditions for more talented women on boards.”

The conference showcased progress made by the Global Board Ready Women (GBRW) to support the EU directive and burst the long-standing myth propagated executive search firms and corporate boards that there are not enough qualified women to fill the gap.

Ms Johnson who is a founding member of GBRW said:

“Challenging the status quo and perceived truths is what makes a great entrepreneur. It is also the way we have been working to break glass ceilings and ensure boards worldwide are tapping into the diverse talents of women leaders. Despite some wonderful progress in recent years there remains a long way to achieve better gender balance on boards in Europe and beyond.” 

Former European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding who proposed the directive during her mandate as Commissioner for European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship gave the conference keynote speech and also joined the meeting with Ms Garza and Ms Johnson.