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2023 Turkey Spencer Stuart Board Index

2023 Snapshot

 18.7 %

of BIST board members are women


companies have a female chair (both family members)


female executive board member

 14 %

of directors are foreign


companies are governed by entirely national boards, unchanged from 2022

Women directors

Female representation on BIST 30 boards has expanded steadily during the past decade. In 2023, the proportion of women directors rose to 18.7%, from 17.4% in 2022.

The Capital Markets Board of Turkey (CMB) recommend a minimum of one female member on Turkish boards, and advocate a target of 25% female representation. Seven companies (25%) in our BIST 30 sample meet this target: Alarko, Koç Holding, ODAŞ, Pegasus, Sabancı Holding, Şişecam, and TAV.

18% (5) of BIST 30 companies have only one female board director — at Akbank, Erdemir, Hektaş, Kardemir, and THY.

Male-only boards are currently found at six companies  (21%) — Aksa, Aselsan, BİM, Emlak Konut, ENKA, and Gübre Fabrikaları.

53% of female directors are independent, compared with 30% of male directors.

Among new directors appointed in the past year, only 33% (10) were women.

Female representation on BIST 30 boards since 2014
Our perspective

In response to recommendations set by regulatory authorities, BIST 30 companies have shown a notable improvement in diversity, particularly in the wake of a 2013 directive from the Capital Markets Board of Turkey (CMB) recommending that public companies should strive to achieve a minimum level of 25% women on their boards.

In 2023 the proportion of women on BIST 30 boards has reached 18.7%. Although this reflects a gradual and long-term increase, it continues to fall below the 25% target. Furthermore, Turkey lags significantly behind its European counterparts in terms of female board representation.

Building more robust comprehensive incentive mechanisms into recruitment policies is also imperative. Possible incentives include grants and subsidies to companies that show higher levels of female representation. It is important to be aware, though, that such incentives could prompt mere window-dressing exercises, or give rise to a temptation to pursue diversity for short-term financial gain. It is therefore essential to consider alternative forms of motivation beyond financial incentives. One effective approach might be to create a system of recognition or awards for companies that prioritise diversity on their boards. This can include certificates or public acknowledgement which can serve as a meaningful incentive for promoting long-term commitment to diversity.

Moreover, organizing networking events that bring together female boards with boards of companies struggling with diversity can be also an effective way of creating a cultural shift. In Turkey, the glass ceiling for women in companies is still prevalent, and such events can help break down negative perceptions towards women, leading to prioritising diversity in boards.

Foreign directors

Non-national representation within the BIST 30 has again registered a negligible level of change — holding steady at 14% (36) in 2023 to 14% (37) in 2022.

Four (13%) newly appointed directors are foreign. There are no foreign directors on the boards of 61% (17) of the BIST 30 companies under review.

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

As seen in recent years, companies with foreign majority shareholders continue to show the highest levels of foreign representation. TAV and Ford Otosan maintain the greatest number of foreign directors (six each), followed by Petkim, Tofaş, Garanti Bank, and Koç Holding, each with four foreign directors.

Origin of foreign directors

Boardroom diversity (Top 5 companies in the BIST 30)

Most Women (%) Most Foreign (%) Most directors under 50 years old (%)*
Sabancı Holding (50%) TAV (55%) Emlak Konut GYO (86%)
ODAŞ (40%) Ford Otosan (50%) Petkim (67%)
Koç Holding (33%) BIM (50%) Erdemir (56%)
Alarko (33%) Petkim (44%) Hektaş (50%)
Şişecam (33%) Tofaş (40%) Turkcell; Kardemir; THY (44%)

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