Sector News

Percentage of women in boardrooms nears milestone

November 16, 2015
Diversity & Inclusion

This is, alas, progress: Women currently hold nearly 19 percent of board seats on the Fortune 1000 companies tracked by a nonprofit advocacy group called 2020 Women on Boards, up 1 percentage point from 2014.

That means the nation’s largest corporations are closing in on the group’s modest goal: that all U.S. companies have a board of directors with at least 20 percent women by the year 2020. The group estimates they’ll exceed that goal. As a reminder, since some people like to list females as a minority, women make up about half of the world’s population. At this rate they’ll get to 50/50 in the year 2046.

“This is something that moves very slowly,” Malli Gero, 2020’s president and co-founder, told The Huffington Post. She noted that since the group’s founding in 2011, the percentage of women on boards has climbed a full percentage point every year.

“That may not sound like a lot to you, but a decade earlier, zero progress was being made,” she said.

Women hold 18.8 percent of the board seats at the 842 companies tracked, up from 17.7 percent last year and 14.6 percent in 2011. The index tracks gender representation on the 2010 Fortune 1000 list. It no longer analyzes 1,000 companies since some have fallen off the list over the years.

Seventy-five of the companies tracked have no women on their board — including Kodak, makeup company Coty and shoe company Skechers. You can search through a database of about 2,000 public and private companies on the nonprofit’s website here.

“It’s not OK to have zero gender diversity,” said Gero, who noted that her group focuses on creating change within those companies.

Typically, it’s the smaller and younger companies — those at the bottom of Fortune’s rankings — that struggle the most to diversify.

After Facebook went public in 2012 with no women on its board of directors, Gero’s group sprang into action. In a blog post and interviews they called attention to the oversight and asked Mark Zuckerberg to at least appoint Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to the board. The news was widely covered.

Facebook shareholders also spoke up. ”We are disappointed that the Facebook board will not have any women members,” wrote Anne Sheehan, a shareholder and director of corporate governance for a California pension fund for the state’s teachers, in a letter to Zuckerberg. “This is particularly glaring in view of the fact that Facebook is going public at a time when there is clear evidence that companies with diverse boards perform far better than the companies with more homogenous boards.”

Ultimately, Zuckerberg appointed Sandberg. Eventually they put another woman on the Facebook board. Now two of eight directors are women, meeting 2020s goal of 20 percent.

Some shareholders are increasingly pushing for board diversity, giving more weight to advocacy groups such as 2020. Urban Outfitters’ CEO initially resisted calls from shareholders to diversify its board — before ultimately capitulating and putting up two. (One was the CEO’s wife.) Rival Abercrombie & Fitch put four women on its board last year after activist investors started making noise about the issue.

By Emily Peck

Source: Huffington Post

comments closed

Related News

January 29, 2023

Shockingly low percentage of job seekers willing to disclose disability, survey shows

Diversity & Inclusion

LinkedIn Twitter Xing EmailWhen it comes to looking for employment, it would appear that disclosing a disability to a prospective employer is still very much taboo. Despite endeavors in recent […]

January 22, 2023

Enabled to do an even better job – building a culture of Easiness

Diversity & Inclusion

Making everyday work easier for people is one of the fundamentals of Hiab’s Employees First culture. In this article Hiab’s CHRO shares how they are striving to enable their employees to do an even better job through an easier work environment.

January 14, 2023

DEI Lighthouses: here’s what works for diversity, equity and inclusion

Diversity & Inclusion

Businesses across the world are forecast to spend more than $15.4 billion on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)-related efforts by 2026. But progress on DEI is slow and in order to accelerate change worldwide we need greater clarity on what works, and what does not. The Global Parity Alliance’s DEI Lighthouse report outlines five success factors across initiatives that had the most sustained impact.

How can we help you?

We're easy to reach