Women in leadership: where are they?

For the third time, WSI conducts a comparative study of women’s place in management and leadership positions in the seafood industry. Across 75 companies, only 17% of women are in leadership positions such as directors. This is definitely an improvement if we consider that this percentage was 14% in 2020 and 9% in 2016. However, it can be considered still a very disappointing and low figure. Have the 100 top seafood companies in the world applied gender diversity in their boards of directions? Has the issue progressed over the last two years? Let’s found out!

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Gender diversity in the 100 top seafood companies boards of directors

Key figures

  • Only 3% of CEO are women, in the 95 companies where information was available.
  • Only 5 women hold the position of chairwoman, in the 59 companies which communicate about chairpersons.
  • Over a quarter of seafood companies have 100% male directors, with 0 women holding leadership responsibilities, in the 75 companies where there was data on board of directors.
  • Still 61% of all seafood companies have less than 20% of female in boards of directors and 25 companies have 0 women on their boards
  • Good examples and practices among companies (see in full Report) represent only 5% of the total of companies studied.

Key findings

  • This 2022 study shows a more progressive landscape in terms of gender diversity in top positions compared to 2016 and 2020. However, the still very low figures highlights a situation no longer acceptable.
  • It is noteworthy that the word chairman -which assigns a male gender to the chairperson-, is still used in the majority of cases to designate women in these positions. The use of language, in particular the feminization of a position, is important because it contributes to transform gender stereotypes, representations and behaviors.
  • Women in leadership, in the boardroom and at executive positions is key to corporate and social responsibility. Gender-inclusive leadership is key to sustainability as it increases higher quality management and corporate social responsibility in many different areas. CSR could be considered as a powerful tool and policy instrument to advance gender diversity, equity and inclusion.

“[We have an] ambition [which] is that our board will become more diverse — we are actively seeking female candidates to help us achieve this goal”

Danish company Espersen, CSR Report

  • The glass ceiling is still a major issue for women in the seafood industry. They were over-represented in lowest paid jobs and lowest valued positions, without having the power to decide on their own ressources and future.
  • Many companies in the seafood sector are family companies; therefore integration of women in top positions is a matter of kinship and not necessarily one of merit. The topic of corporate cultures deserves to be further explored to better understand the barriers and/or opportunities that women know to access top positions.
  • A clear advance is the fact companies started communication about the presence of women in CSR reports. It shows they understand the importance of the issue. They need to continue their efforts.
  • “What cannot be counted does not exist”: starting by counting how many women are in the highest paid and in decision-making (power) positions is necessary and is a good way to generate a diagnosis.

Key recommendations

  • We invite seafood companies to follow good practices presented in the report, display their diversity and equal opportunity state in order to get better.
  • Be accountable, make commitments in written and public form, conduct action to address and end this situation.
  • Consider gender diversity as a CSR issue or an issue in itself and think strategically to implement true equal opportunities and measurable clear goals to break the glass ceiling.
  • Think critically to end discriminatory processes in a corporate culture or « gender neutral » policies that have harmful impacts on women.

Version française ci-dessous

Para el informeen español ver abajo.


The study is based on Undercurrent News’ 2022 ninth edition list of the top 100 seafood companies, based on 2021 companies information.

This analysis responds to our objective of providing data on the presence of women in top leadership and management positions in order to highlight that women need to have a seat at decision-level tables on matters and issues they are also impacted by. This study considers the board of directors to be the corporate body composed of the executive members plus the members of the boards (executives + board members = board of directors). It should be noted that every year the top 100 seafood company’s list changes. Data on board of directors was found for 75 of them in this edition. CEO’s gender information was found for 95/100 companies. More details in the Results Report.

Company websites are much more complete and transparent with regard to corporate governance information. Data was also found in company’s sustainability reports available online. The information collected was found on corporate websites and on business websites. It was corroborated in articles on media seafood websites.

This report has been produced by Natalia Briceño, sociologist and WSI’s Adviser, reviewed by Camille Cherques, WSI’s Director.