Women on Boards and in Business Leadership

Breaking down women’s barriers to board directorships and senior management positions.

A group of women smiling

Achieving gender equality is impossible without women’s equal representation in business leadership.

As the only IFC initiative solely focused on women business leaders, WBBL works across sectors to foster diverse and gender-inclusive business leadership and accelerate the pace women ascend to corporate board and executive positions.

WBBL’s work underpins one of the three strategic objectives of the World Bank Gender Strategy 2024-2030: engaging women as leaders. It also aligns with IFC’s mission to create markets and opportunities through growing the private sector and best environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Research has shown that more women in leadership positively correlate with higher ESG standards, leading to improved business performance and inclusive economic growth.


Globally, women hold only 23.3 percent of board seats, 8.4 percent of board chair, 6 percent of CEO, and 17.6 percent of CFO positions1.
Companies with greater board gender diversity are 60 percent more likely to reduce the intensity of energy consumption, 39 percent more likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and 46 percent more likely to reduce water use2.

1 Deloitte. 2023. “Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective.” Eigth edition.

2 FP Analytics. 2022. “Women as Levers of Change.”

Priority Areas

Leveraging capital markets to advance women leaders: We work with stock exchanges and other market players to promote gender equality and the advancement of women in leadership.

Increasing thought leadership and knowledge: We conduct research and support efforts to promote gender diversity in leadership and highlight opportunities for progress.

Building capacity, institutions, and networks: With women’s leadership training delivered in over 20 countries, we build networks of board- and senior-management-ready women and men allies

Addressing crisis management, resilience, and sustainability: We support women leaders in building sustainable, inclusive, resilient businesses.

Recent Videos


Video Series: We Rise - Insights from Women Business Leaders on Managing through Crisis, Resilience and Recovery – The pandemic caused a devastating economic contraction and elevated the importance of building resilient organizations. At the pandemic’s height, IFC interviewed eight women business leaders in fragile and emerging markets on steering their companies through crisis and lessons learned in building resilience.