Corporate boards aren’t exactly famous for being bastions of diversity.
As it turns out, there are more men named John, Robert, James and William than there are women total on corporate boards at U.S. companies, according to a new report by Ernst & Young’s Center for Board Matters.
Still, there’s hope. Somewhat. The percentage of new board members who are women at S&P 1500 companies climbed to 23 percent in 2014 from 18 percent in 2013. And, nearly 15 percent of those S&P 1500 companies have increased the number of female-held directorships since 2013. But that raises questions of whether boards are purposely bringing in fresh blood to their boards or simply adding more directors, according to the report.
The report notes that it’s been a “slow march,” to get women on corporate boards, adding that the proportion of women on boards has increased only 5 percentage points over the past 10 years. And those female directors tend to be younger, less tenured and more likely to serve on multiple company boards than their male counterparts. They also are less likely to be current CEOs.
Currently, 81 percent of S&P 1500 companies have at least one woman on their boards. According to the report, 16 percent of board seats were held by women in 2014, up from 11 percent in 2006.
Furthermore, the report said, boards of larger companies are significantly more diverse, with 98 percent of Fortune 100 companies claiming at least one woman on their boards, while only two-thirds of small-cap companies have a female board member.
By Corilyn Shropshire