Gender and beneficial ownership transparency

  • Publication date: 28 April 2022
  • Author: Lubumbe Van de Velde

Sources of sex-disaggregated data about beneficial owners

The research identified different sources of sex-disaggregated BO data for implementers. Broadly, implementers can:

  • collect sex data implicitly through BO declarations;
  • collect sex data explicitly through BO declarations; and
  • integrate BO data with other sex-disaggregated datasets.

Implicit collection through beneficial ownership declarations

Whilst sex is not explicitly collected in many jurisdictions as part of BO disclosures, sex data of a beneficial owner is often already available to governments or implicitly collected through BO declarations, for example, through the requirement to submit supporting identification documentation to verify the person is who they say they are, which often contains information about sex.[30] Personal information that is collected through declarations about the beneficial owners of companies primarily intends to ensure the minimum data is available to unambiguously identify the natural person at the end of a company chain.[31] However, the type and amount of information requested is guided by the scope of the policy’s intended impact, and differs from country to country.

BO declarations consist of more than personal information about the beneficial owners. They also include information about the declaring entity (the company) and information about the ownership and control relationship between them. Personal information collected to identify the beneficial owner and their interests often include a combination of the following:[32]

  • title of the beneficial owners (for example, Miss, Ms, Mr, Mrs);
  • full names of the beneficial owner(s), i.e. current legal names, including family and given names where applicable;
  • date of birth;
  • residential address;
  • business address;
  • nationality;
  • supporting documentation, including national identity documents (IDs), passports, driving licences, or voter registration cards.

As a principle, sufficient information should be collected for authorities to have the capacity to identify and disambiguate between beneficial owners. Collecting additional personal data fields may provide more levels of assurance to this end. Although the level of information collected may not typically include sex data, supporting documentation will either explicitly include sex data by indicating gender or sex, or contain information from which the sex of beneficial owners could be implied – such as names, maiden names, and photographs. However, it is unlikely that this data will be fully accurate, and in many jurisdictions data protection legislation restricts the processing of personal and biometric information. Furthermore, evidence provided to support verification of information such as residential address and share certificates might include titles such as Miss, Mrs, Ms, or Mr, which are not sex-neutral.

Integrating beneficial ownership data with other sex-disaggregated datasets

Governments often already hold sex data of individuals in other datasets such as civil registries, address registers, national statistics, ID-issuing authorities, and datasets on entrepreneurship. Governments may already be integrating BO data with these datasets to cross-check information in BO disclosures for verification purposes, which are likely to include sex data.

It is possible that these datasets are not held by governments. For example, some BO disclosure regimes mandate certain persons, including obliged parties such as lawyers, notaries, accountants, and banks, verify information provided about the beneficial owner.[33] Verification through obliged parties can occur manually or digitally by creating a profile of the beneficial owner (i.e. digital ID), using information collected about beneficial owners to unambiguously identify them that may also include sex data.[34]

Explicit collection through beneficial ownership declarations

Some countries explicitly collect sex-disaggregated BO data by requesting the gender or sex of beneficial owners be disclosed through a data field found on BO declaration forms. Examples of countries that collect sex data include Botswana, Nigeria, Tanzania,[35] and Zambia.[36] In most cases, there is no published rationale for the inclusion of gender on BO declaration forms, so the motivation for explicitly collecting sex-disaggregated BO data is unclear. The research found only one case with a rationale for the use of sex-disaggregated BO data, the province of British Columbia in Canada (see Box 2). However, this jurisdiction is not yet at the stage of implementation to know exactly how they will collect this data. More research is needed to understand why governments are collecting sex data, whether it is used for disambiguation, and whether this data is currently used or planned to be used for gender equality policy aims.

As governments often already hold sex data of individuals, collecting it as part of BO disclosures risks introducing conflicting data between multiple public departments or authorities, meaning governments no longer have a single source of truth. Nevertheless, the research has identified use cases which require the explicit collection of sex-disaggregated BO data.


[30] “Example Paper Forms for Collecting Beneficial Ownership Data”, Open Ownership, 4.

[31] See: “Open Ownership Principles – Sufficient detail”, Open Ownership, updated July 2021,

[32] “Example Paper Forms for Collecting Beneficial Ownership Data”, Open Ownership, 3-7.

[33] See: Best Practices on Beneficial Ownership for Legal Persons (Paris: FATF, October 2019), 31,

[34] Ibid, 56.

[35] “Form No.14b”, The United Republic of Tanzania Business Registrations and Licensing Agency, n.d., Pursuant to sections 14(2) of Companies Act, Cap 212,

[36] “Form 21 (Regulation 22)”, The Patents and Companies Registration Agency, n.d., The Companies Act, 2017 (Act No. 10 of 2017),

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