C25 diversity 2023 report cover

Once again, we’ve updated our research on gender balance and diversity policies in the C25 companies, based on publicly available data as of March 2023. This is the third time our team has put together these results using extensive desk research.

This year, 15 out of the 24 C25 companies (63%) have a published diversity policy with specific targets for the board, executive management and a wider group of mgmt./ entire organization. This is double the figure for last year and up from only 3 companies in 2021, so it’s great progress!

In terms of the statistics for each level:

  • the boards of the C25 currently have an average of 38% female, about equal to the prior 2 years. 83% of C25 stated a clear goal for the board level, and 70% of those have achieved their goal, up from 63% in 2022.
  • the executive management level have, on average, only 17% female (but up from 10% in 2022). 54% of the companies have no women on this team. However, there is a positive development in setting a gender goal for this team: 92% of C25 do this, up from 25% in 2022. 27% of those who have a goal have achieved it (vs 0% in 2022).
  • on the next level (we call it the senior leadership level), we see, on average, only 23% female (up from 18% last year), but 17% of the companies still have no women, though this is a big improvement from 29% last year. 100% of the companies have now set a goal for this level (vs 25% last year), and 25% have achieved the goal (none had achieved it last year). This level is especially important, as it represents the pipeline for future top management and boards.

We commend the progress that has been made, but we see there is still work to be done to ensure the targets are clear enough at each required level and that they are defined in a way that is easy to monitor. Companies do not always clearly define their various management levels to the public, but the new law (Bill L 117 A) requires that they report on gender statistics for three clearly defined management levels by the end of 2023 (more on that later in this article).

Some highlights:

Diversity Policies

It has long been a recommendation in the Corporate Governance Guidelines that companies create and publish clear diversity policies. These should focus on issues that strengthen management’s qualifications and competencies and support the company’s future development. They should also explain how the company will actively work on increasing diversity, including the gender distribution at the different management levels in the company.

Our research shows that all the C25 companies have published diversity policies in some format, but in some cases, the published policy for making progress toward diversity still consists of a few sentences in the CSR or SDG report notes, without concrete measures or milestones. In our full report, you can find one page for each of the C25, with relevant extracts from their policies.

Overall, this year 15 out of 24 C25 companies (63%) publish their goals for all three levels, while 7 publish for only 2 levels and 2 do so for only one of the levels.

% Female

This year, 19 companies (up from only 3 / 13% in 2021) have published targets for % / number female, for at least three groups – the board, executive management, and the senior leadership level.  Here’s how the situation looks at each level:

Female representation at 3 levels C25 2022

Companies to be celebrated

Many companies are already doing well in terms of having women on each level.
Here are the top companies for this year:

Danish C25 companies with high % female

Important note:

2023 is a critical year of transition regarding the topic of diversity at Danish companies. During this  year, recommendations are being replaced by a new Danish law, and companies need to adjust their reporting.
The new law (Bill L 117 A) requires that the central management body of all large public companies must, for the accounting year starting 1 January 2023 (eg by year end 2023).  Read more about the law and the board’s responsibility in our article here: (link to new article on board responsiblity for Diversity).

You may or may not be aware that the board of directors is responsible for reviewing, EVERY YEAR, what actions the company is taking to ensure relevant diversity at the different management levels. Some boards are more active with this task than others, and performance will only improve with more active board involvement. Be sure it is on the annual wheel of agenda topics at YOUR board meetings

If you’d like more information on how we did the research, or detailed findings for each company, don’t hesitate to contact us here: