As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, companies across the globe are today still struggling to improve gender diversity at their top levels.

The annual GMI Ratings 2012 Women on Boards survey, published today, has revealed that 10.5 per cent of boardroom seats worldwide are currently occupied by women, an increase of 0.7 percentage points from last year, the Financial Times has reported.

Using data from 4,300 companies in 45 countries, the survey found that 60.2 per cent of businesses had at least one woman on their board, while 9.8 per cent had three or more female directors.

However, the figures vary considerably between countries, with France and Australia both displaying significant increases with current female participation standing at 16.6 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively.

The USA fared rather worse, with the percentage of female directors only increasing by 0.5 a percentage point to 12.6 per cent in the past year, while India, China and Brazil have also been shown to be lagging behind.

Following concerns that progress towards gender diversity in the workplace is not progressing at a fast enough rate, a European consultation has been launched that could lead to compulsory quotas being introduced to tackle the problem.

According to the most recent figures from the European Commission, female representation at board level has risen only slightly to 13.7 per cent up from 11.8 per cent in 2010.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said that since her original call to companies to voluntarily increase the number of female directors at the top level there had only been limited progress.

“The lack of women in top jobs in the business world harms Europe’s competitiveness and hampers economic growth,” Ms Reding added. “Personally, I am not a great fan of quotas. However, I like the results they bring.

“I believe it is high time that Europe breaks the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from getting to the top in Europe’s listed companies.