Skip to Main Content


2021 Turkey Spencer Stuart Board Index

2021 Snapshot

 18.5 %

of BIST board members are women


companies have a female chair


female CEOs in the BIST 30

 12 %

of executive team members are women

 10 %

of directors are foreign

 75 %

of companies are governed by entirely national boards

Women directors

Female representation on BIST 30 boards had been steadily increasing in recent years. However, this year the proportion of women in the BIST 30 boardrooms has declined, from 19.2% in 2020 to 18.5% in 2021. 

The CGP recommends that Turkish boards have at least one female member and encourages companies to aim for a target of 25% female representation (Communiqué on CGP Annex. Par 4.3.9). Seven companies (25%) in our BIST 30 sample meet this target: Doğan Holding, Koç Holding, Sabancı Holding, Şişecam, TAV, Tekfen Holding, and TSKB.

43% (12) of BIST 30 companies have only one female director on the board. Four companies continue with male-only boards: Aselsan, BİM, Sasa Polyester, and Türk Telekom.

40% of female directors are independent compared with 34% of male directors.

Among new directors appointed in the past year, only 12.3% (6) were women.

The number of female chairs has declined, after the female chair of İşbank was replaced by a male chair. This year, we see that only three boards (11%) are led by women: Akbank, Doğan Holding, and Sabancı Holding. All female chairs are family members of the majority shareholder.

Female representation on BIST 30 boards since 2014
Women in board and ExCO roles

Gender diversity on BIST 30 executive committees

Women are significantly underrepresented in executive roles. Only one female CEO is found among the BIST 30 companies. Fifteen companies (50%) are run by male-only executive committees (ExCos) and a further four (13%) have only one female member.

Only 11.9% (30) of executives on ExCos are women. They come from a variety of functions, as shown in the chart below.

Roles of women on executive committees in the BIST30 
Our perspective

Although female representation on BIST 30 boards has gradually increased in the long term, the 18.5% share recorded this year is in itself a slight decline on the preceding 12 months. Turkey’s leading companies continue to fall below the desired 25% target.

Talent has no gender, race, or specific background and a corporate culture that values that principle is key to developing a competitive and inspirational leadership, within a safe environment. In terms of new board appointments, we still cannot observe a commitment to gender parity, even on the minimum standards set by the CGP.

However, BIST 30 companies appear responsive to recommendations set by the public authority. In 2013 the Capital Markets Board of Turkey (CMB) recommended that women should account for at least 25% of the board in public companies. CMB further added that companies should work formally towards this goal and record their progress in their annual reports. As a result of this recommendation, significant improvements were seen in the ratio of women to men on BIST 30 boards. However, the implementation of genuine diversity and inclusivity demands more stringent mandates than simple recommendations.

Foreign directors

Non-national representation in the BIST 30 has declined this year, from 12% (31) in 2020 to 8.1% (22) in 2021. 

None of the newly appointed directors is foreign. 60% (18) of BIS 30 companies have no foreign directors on their boards.

Only two (7%) have a foreign chair: Petkim and TAV.

The share of foreigners in management teams has also fallen, from 10% in 2019 to 2.6% in 2020 and 2.3% in 2021. No foreign executive director sits on any BIS 30 board.

As in previous years, foreign representation is greatest in companies whose major shareholder is foreign. TAV had the most foreign directors (55% of the board), followed by Petkim (50%), BIM (33%) and Garanti Bank (33%), and all above 25%. Among major conglomerates, Koç Holding once again stands out as the most culturally diverse board: three out of their five independent directors are foreign.

Origin of foreign directors

Boardroom diversity (Top 5 companies in the BIST 30)

Most Women (%) Most Foreign (%) Most directors under 50 years old (%)*
Doğan Şirketler Grubu (45%) TAV (55%) Emlak Konut GYO (71%)
Sabancı Holding (44%) Petkim (50%) Erdemir (56%)
Şişecam (44%) BIM (33%) THY (33%)
Koç Holding (42%) Garanti Bank (27%) Turkcell (33%)
Tekfen (36%) Koç Holding (25%) Halk Bankası (33%)

For more information on the age of directors, see the Board Composition section