Women in the boardroom: gender diversity at the top in Luxembourg
Article by Sandrine Muller, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader at Deloitte
The business case for diversity is clear. Companies with more diverse boards and C-suites tend to enjoy better returns on capital, environmental, social and governance (ESG), and stock performance (1). In addition, more gender-diverse organizations tend to outperform those less gender-diverse (2).

However, women are still underrepresented in the boardroom globally, with less than one-quarter (23.3%) of the world’s board seats held by women. And while Luxembourg’s board seats held by women have steadily risen in five years to reach 21.8% in 2023, the number of female board chairs stood nearly four times lower (5.6%) in 2023.

To reach gender parity on company boards and in the C-suite, boards must continue to take the initiative and ask the right questions, while governments, organizations and investors must intensify their efforts to help boards better reflect the societies they are a part of. 

Gender parity is still elusive

Deloitte Global’s eighth edition of Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective report analyzed more than 18,000 companies in 50 countries and geographies, exploring how women in the boardroom are represented and insights into the related political, social, and legislative trends. (3)
The report reveals the number of women serving on boards globally has risen by 3.6% since 2022. However, if this rate of change holds steady, gender parity is unlikely to be reached before 2038.
In addition, there is no clear path to gender parity for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). Just 4.9% of CEOs and 5.7% of CFOs in Luxembourg were women in 2023, compared to the European average of 7.3% for CEOs and 16.6% for CFOs that year.

Steady progress in boards and board committees in Luxembourg

Luxembourg has made significant gains in the number of female board committee members and chairs since 2018.

In 2023, 32.4% of Luxembourg’s governance committee members were women (37.3% for Europe), compared to 12.9% in 2018 (28.6% for Europe). While 32% of compensation committees were chaired by women (41% for Europe), compared to 18.8% in 2018 (27.5% for Europe).

Luxembourg’s percentage of board seats held by women has steadily risen over five years, from 12% in 2018 to 15.5% in 2021, and reaching 21.8% in 2023. While the country falls short of Europe’s average figures—25.8% in 2018, 30.7% in 2021 and 33.8% in 2023—its increase of 9.8 percentage points over that period surpasses the European average of 8.

While this growth in the number of women on boards and chairing committees is encouraging, more progress is needed in leveraging these roles to ascend to board chair and C-suite positions.

Among chair and C-suite roles, the glass ceiling seems impenetrable

Only 11% of Europe’s boards were chaired by women in 2023, three times lower than the percentage of women that served on boards in Europe (33.8%). Luxembourg fares even worse, with only 5.6% of women chairing boards in 2023, nearly four times lower than the percentage of women serving on boards (21.8%).

However, Luxembourg’s percentage of board chairs that are women has also gained ground in five years. Initially standing at 3.2% in 2018, the number dipped to 3.0% in 2021 only to rally and reach 5.6% in 2023, representing a 2.4 percentage point rise. This falls short of Europe’s overall 4.1 percentage point increase for the same period (6.9% in 2018, 10% in 2021 and 11% in 2023).

Female CEOs are seriously underrepresented in the Grand Duchy, with only male CEOs reported in both 2018 and 2021. However, in 2023, 4.9% of Luxembourg companies had a female CEO, signalling that some progress had finally been made. The country falls short of Europe’s steady gain of 5% in 2018, 6.7% in 2021, and 7.3% in 2023.

While Luxembourg’s percentage of female CFOs grew from 3.2% in 2018 to 12.5% in 2021, their numbers plummeted to 5.7% in 2023, representing a 54.4% decline. This is in sharp contrast to Europe’s steady growth in female CFOs, from 12.2% in 2018 to 15.8% in 2021 and 16.6% in 2023.

Overboarding and the stretch factor

The practice of implementing gender quotas and targets for boards has been criticized in some quarters, amid fears that the same women would be "overboarded" or asked to serve on a large number of boards. To assess this concern, in 2014, Deloitte Global developed the "stretch factor", a research tool measuring the average number of board seats that an individual holds in a particular market. The higher the stretch factor, the more seats are held by any single director in a given market.

At 1.03, Luxembourg’s stretch factor for women in 2023 was lower than Europe’s 1.22. The country’s stretch factor for men in 2023 was also below Europe’s average, coming in at 1.02 compared to Europe’s 1.14.

Government measures are contributing

The study showed that government measures have helped advance board gender parity. For example, five of the top six countries with the highest percentage of women on boards in the study have a quota legislation, from around 33% (Belgium and the Netherlands) to 40% (France, Norway, and Italy). Along with quotas, other government initiatives like targets and disclosures have also had an effect.

However, government action alone is not enough. Board members and other stakeholders, including investors, must continue to set expectations around gender diversity.


While the number of women on boards in Luxembourg is steadily growing, more needs to be done to achieve gender parity, especially among chairs, CEOs and CFOs.

As critical change agents, boards must question whether they are doing enough to drive change, including how they select candidates and promote women. Companies must also expand their skill profiles to diversify their boards and shore up skill gaps.

But boards cannot do it alone. Business leaders must also do their part to accelerate the timeline for achieving gender parity, by having the courage to ask difficult questions.

To read the full report, please visit Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective.

1. Credit Suisse, “Credit Suisse Gender 3000 report shows women hold almost a quarter of board room positions globally" press release, 28 September 2021.

2. Morgan Stanley, Gender diversity keeps paying dividends, 7 March 2023.

3. Deloitte, Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective, 6 March 2024.

Sandrine Muller
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader at Deloitte

ILA and LuxFLAG partner up to further enhance Governance and Sustainability in Luxembourg