Norway, which topped the list with 36.4 per cent of female board members, was a key focal point because of the laws it introduced in 2006 stipulating that publicly-traded companies must appoint at least 40 per cent of women members to their boards.
According to the report those who refused to comply with this quota risked “forced dissolution by delisting from the Oslo Stock Exchange”.
The report additionally revealed, however, that countries that did not enforce quotas had also fared successfully. Finland, which came second with 27.1 per cent, and Sweden, in third with 24.6 per cent, both increased female board numbers without introducing laws.
Research from executive recruitment firm Executives Online said that less than half (43 per cent) of those surveyed believed quotas would help to encourage more women into senior executive roles, but nearly a third (30 per cent) doubted the benefits of gender diversity in the boardroom.
Ms Andersson, who is from Sweden, said Scandinavian countries came out on top not because of any enforced laws or threats, but because they have stronger social networks and structures in place to help women who have children.
She added: “When you look at board directors across the board, Scandinavian countries stand out as being best. Norway, Sweden and Finland are countries that have a strong social network when it comes to things such as parental leave and this makes a massive difference. There is a whole level of societal structures in place there that encourage women.
“The data, therefore, showed that it was not just quotas that guaranteed success. Quotas could work in an environment where there is no other encouragement, but if you have a lot of societal measures in place, like there is in Scandinavia, then it is not necessary.
“It is all about political will and measures to share responsibilities between men and women, and this is often connected to children and sharing the responsibility of raising them.”
Ms Andersson was more critical of the UK where, according to the Professional Boards Forum’s BoardWatch in October 2013, women made up 19 per cent of FTSE 100 directors. Although this figure represented an increase on the 12.5 per cent registered three years earlier, it still fell short of the government’s targets of 25 per cent by 2015, which has not been enforced with sanctions.
Whereas Ms Andersson argued that in Scandinavia official laws were not necessary, she added that countries such as the UK that do not offer the same support networks may have to consider enforcing quotas to get the desired result of more equality.
Even though the distribution of wealth between genders has yet to be recognised as even in most of the world, a steady increase of female success stories in the past decade has led financial advisers to consider more of them as potential clients.