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Initiatives and Interesting Statistics

You can volunteer your time, money and/or resources to assist these particular initiatives, created to increase the number of women on boards in the United States. We will keep you updated on the latest progress with bullet-point stats from a variety of sources.

Have a great initiative or statistic to share? Please let us know.

Initiatives

California State Resolution

In 2013, the California Legislature was the first of any state in the nation to pass a resolution urging all publicly held corporations in the state to place more women on their boards by the end of December, 2016. Illinois is following suit with a similar resolution already passing the House and due to the Senate in the fall of 2015.

2020 Women on Boards

A national campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or greater by the year 2020.

Every Other One: More Women on Corporate Boards

If prominent corporations adopt a target of recruiting women in one of every two board seat openings due to normal retirements and existing female seats are retained, CED believes that 30% participation would likely occur by 2018.

Project Starfish

A process to help ensure that board opportunities for qualified women are not lost, but rather benefit others.

Stanford Women on Boards

The goal of SWB is to increase the representation of Stanford alumnae on corporate boards, increase Stanford women’s readiness for board service, and further develop the capabilities and influence of Stanford women already on boards.

Women on Boards Initiative

Inspired to address gender inequity and its impact on the business landscape, Forté partnered with its sponsoring business schools and companies to advance women into corporate board positions.

The Thirty Percent Coalition

The Thirty Percent Coalition is a unique and groundbreaking national organization of over 70 members committed to the goal of women holding 30% of board seats across public companies.

Director Diversity Initiative

The objective of the Director Diversity Initiative is to encourage boards of directors of public companies to increase their gender, racial, and ethnic diversity.

DirectWomen

A national non-profit that works to increase the representation of women lawyers on corporate boards through events that provide education and networking opportunities around the issue of women on boards.

ION

A national consortium whose mission is to increase the number of women appointed to corporate boards and to the executive suite.

Idaho Boards Project

The purpose of this initiative is to document and analyze the gender balance on public boards and commissions within Idaho, including  cities, counties to state organizations.

Interesting Statistics

Men vs. Women

Women hold just 20.2 percent—only 1 in 5—of Fortune 500 board seats, according to Missing Pieces, a census of women and minorities on Fortune 500 boards published in February by the Alliance for Board Diversity. – CRAIN’s Chicago Business

A 2016 report shows that only 26.9 percent of open director positions went to women in the past year, and nearly a quarter of S&P 500 companies had only one female board member. Sadly, the study also shows that women hold just 21 of the CEO positions in the S&P 500—a paltry 4.2 percent. – CRAIN’s Chicago Business

In 2016, women made up 26 percent of the boards in the banking and capital markets industry, which tied with the retail industry, according to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The average rate of women on boards of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was 21 percent. – The New York Times

Women and minorities occupy nearly 31 percent of the board seats of Fortune 500 companies, a small increase over the last four years, a new study has found. While that is the highest level in the six years of the study, white men continue to hold more than two-thirds of the positions. – The New York Times

About 13 percent of new directors in the banking and capital markets sector in 2016 were women.  – The New York Times

The new Equilar Gender Diversity Index (GDI) revealed that it will take nearly 40 years for Russell 3000 boards of directors to reach gender parity. If the current rate of growth remains the same, Russell 3000 boards would reach 50% male and 50% female representation in Q4 2055. – Equilar

As of December 31, 2016, Russell 3000 boards were at 0.30 on the index, nearly one-third of the way toward parity. The data reflects that 15.1% of board seats at Russell 3000 companies were occupied by women as of year end. This represented an increase from 13.9% at the same point in 2015, which was up from 13.2% in 2014. – Equilar

Women hold the top positions in corporate governance at many of the biggest mutual funds and pension funds — deciding which way to vote on the directors of a company board. – The New York Times

93% of women surveyed — think there are enough diverse candidates out there to choose from for corporate boards, while only 64% of men do. – Business Insider

Of the entire pool of directors across all firms, researchers found that only 7% are minority directors, and only 12% are female—a far cry from the 40% female participation goal that Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chief Mary Jo White set in 2015. – Fortune

One in ten directors believes the optimal representation of women on boards should be 20% or less,” the report said, and “97% of those who believe this are male. – Business Insider

For now (2016), women only make up about 20% of boards. – Business Insider

In 2015, men held 80.1% of S&P 500 board seats, while women only held 19.9%. – Catalyst

In 2015, men held 73.1% of S&P 500 new directorships, while women only held 26.9%. – Catalyst

In 2015, 2.8% of S&P 500 companies had zero women directors and only 14.2% of companies had 30% or more women on their boards. – Catalyst

Within S&P 500 companies, women held: 4.2% of CEO positions, 9.5% of top earner positions, 25.1% of executive/senior-level officials and managers positions, 36.4% of first/mid-level officials and managers positions; also, 44.3% of total employees were women. – Catalyst

Public and private company boards are similar in terms of the representation of women, minorities and new directors. On average, 18% of board members are women, 7% are ethnic minorities and 13% have been appointed in the past 12 months (prior to April 2016). Spencer Stuart

Female representation (on boards) is highest (20% or more) in the consumer staples, financial services/professional services and consumer discretionary sectors, and lowest in IT/telecom (13%). Spencer Stuart

Female representation (on boards) is lowest in Central and South America and Asia. Spencer Stuart

An April 2016 Board of Directors survey revealed that 16% of male corporate directors agree that diversity is not a top priority in board recruiting vs. 36% of female corporate directors agreeing. Spencer Stuart

An April 2016 Board of Directors survey showed that 36% of male corporate directors agree there is a lack of qualified female director candidates vs. 7% of female corporate directors agreeing. Spencer Stuart

Nearly 75% of surveyed directors do not personally support boardroom diversity quotas, but support for quotas varies significantly by gender and, to a lesser degree, by age. Forty-nine percent of female directors support diversity quotas, but only 9% of male directors do. Spencer Stuart

67% of female directors ages 55 and younger personally support boardroom quotas, compared with 36% of female directors over 55 (the majority of male directors, of any age, do not support quotas). Spencer Stuart

Female directors also are more likely to be in favor of government regulatory agencies requiring boards to disclose specific practices/steps being taken to seat diverse candidates (43% versus 14% of male directors). Spencer Stuart

39% of female directors report that their gender was a significant factor in their board appointment, versus 1% of men. Spencer Stuart

Women make up an estimated 40% of the global workforce, with many countries seeing an almost equal split of women and men in the labour force. However, these numbers are not reflected on corporate boards. World Economic Forum

A report on gender diversity on corporate boards from McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University looked into the hiring patterns of 3,000 US companies from 2002-2011. The researchers found a “gender matching heuristic”, meaning that when men leave they are more likely to be replaced by a man, while women are more likely to be hired to fill a space vacated by another woman. World Economic Forum

8 percent of Fortune 500 boards have no women, 28 percent have one woman, and 64 percent have two or more women – CED

Almost half (45%) of board seats are held by individuals with a tenure of 10 years or longer, and 88% of these are men – EY

Women currently (2015) hold 23 (4.6%) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies –Catalyst

Women currently (2015) hold 19.2% of board seats at US stock index companies –Catalyst

It turns out that the prestige of cyber and technology means that men are now joining the ranks in much greater percentages while the number of women in those entry-level jobs has plummeted, according to Caroline Simard, senior director of research at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. –Bloomberg

Companies with more women on their boards have delivered a 36 per cent better return on equity since 2010 than those groups lacking board diversity, according to MSCI, the index provider.–Financial Times

MSCI examined the 1,643 companies that make up the MSCI World benchmark and found that groups with strong female leadership delivered a 10.1 per cent return on equity, compared with 7.4 per cent for those companies without. –Financial Times

Strong female leadership is defined by MSCI as those boards containing three or more women, or one with a female chief executive and at least one other female board member. –Financial Times

39 percent of women directors in the SV150 sit as the only director and 29 percent had no women directors – Kaye Scholer LLP

Like the Fortune 1000, more progress was made with the larger companies in Britain, but the FTSE 350 has had 550 new women appointed to boards in just over four years, and while there were 152 all-male boards in the FTSE 350 index in 2011, today there are only 15 companies with all-male boards (all in the FTSE 250). The FTSE 250 more than doubled the number of women on their boards, and there are 82 companies in the FTSE 250 with more than 25 percent of seats held by women. – Kaye Scholer LLP

Both men and women average 1.1 boards served per individual performing board service. – Lonergan Partner Insights

22% percent of women-filled board seats were filled in 2014-2015, as compared to 12% for men-filled seats. – Lonergan Partner Insights

The average compensation for women directors is $300,483 versus $283,804 for men. – Lonergan Partner Insights

Women make up a low percentage of leaders—less than 13% of the CEOs, Chairmen, and LIDs. – Lonergan Partner Insights

48% of women directors serve on the board audit committee (as opposed to only 38% of men), 40% serve on nom & gov, and 33% serve on compensation. –Lonergan Partner Insights

Nearly 75% of private tech company boards have no women –Fast Company

Companies have 36% better performance with 3+ women on boards Fast Company

Icahn Associates Holding, which nominated the most directors over the past five years, won 45 of the 94 board positions sought. Among the 42 people he put forward as candidates, not one was a woman.  BloombergBusiness

Since the beginning of 2011, five of the biggest U.S. activist funds have sought at least 174 board positions and landed 108, yet nominated women just seven times. The women candidates got five seats, or 5 percent of the total. BloombergBusiness

At Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies over the same period, about 26 percent of director openings, or 446 seats, were filled by women.  BloombergBusiness


Slow Growth

In 2016, 580 new female directors were added to Russell 3000 boards, or 21.4% of all new directors. That figure increased from 398 in 2014, when females represented 17.8% of new directors that year. – Equilar

While nearly 25% of Russell 3000 boards—or 738 companies—had no women as of December 31, 2016, 58 boards added a female director throughout the year where there had been none since at least 2011. – Equilar

In a recent analysis of companies in the S&P 500, women occupied at least 33 percent of board seats among the top 50 companies (up to nearly 60 percent for the highest percentage). In all, female representation on those boards has increased on average by 24 percentage points since 2005. McKinsey

Only 4% of S&P 500 CEOs are female, and only 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are African-American. – Business Insider

In 2015, 19.9 percent of powerful positing for companies in the S&P 500 index were female, up marginally from the 19.2 percent of female directors the year before. Women held less than 10 percent of top-earner positions. And just over a quarter of new board members were women – The Washington Post

In a recent 2016 survey, 60% of respondents selected global economic uncertainty as one of the five 2017 trends that will have the greatest impact on their companies. –NACD

Women accounted for 29.8 percent of new directors in 2015, up only slightly from 29.2 percent in 2014. – Hunt Scanlon Media

The overall percentage of Fortune 500 board seats occupied by women: 21% in 2016, vs. 19.6% in 2015. The percentage of companies with just one female board member is down, now 22% in 2016  vs. 28% last year. –Fortune

In the U.S., women hold 19.2% of the board seats in the S&P 500 (2015). This is about the same as it was last year (2014). – Catalyst

Nearly a third of all newly appointed directors in 2014 were women. They received 29 percent of the seats last year (2014), up from 26 percent the year before (2013) and just 18 percent in 2009 – Heidrick & Struggles

The total percentage of women on the boards of S&P 500 companies has grown by only three percentage points over the past five years, from 16 percent to just 19 percent – Spencer Stuart

The average annual rate of increase in women directors has been approximately 0.4%, or roughly 22 additional seats per year. On this basis, the 16.9% in 2013 would climb to 30 percent of fortune 500 directors in 33 years (by 2046) – CED

Over the last five years, as data theft has risen to the top of corporate concerns, 16 of the largest U.S. companies have appointed one or more directors with cybersecurity credentials, 10 of them women. – Bloomberg

Chief information officer jobs are also being filled with more women than other executive roles. About 17 percent of CIOs at companies in the S&P 500 Index are women, compared with 13 percent for chief financial officers, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Less than 5 percent of CEOs in the index are women. –Bloomberg

The number of women running Fortune 500 companies fell in 2015—from 26 to 23. – Fortune

Nearly one-third of new Fortune 500 directors appointed in 2014 were women. And of the 5,415 board seats on America’s largest corporations, 1,057 (20%) of them are currently held by females—up 4% from February. – Fortune

In 2014-15, women-filled seats represented 22% of the total new SV150 board appointees. – Lonergan Partner Insights

Last year (2014) in the Lonergan Partners CEO study, only four SV150 companies were led by women CEOs. In this year’s (2015) SV150 group there are now eight women. – Lonergan Partner Insights

The Washington Post reports that only 2% of S&P 500 boards do not have any women members. – Lonergan Partner Insights

At SV150 companies with revenues over $4 billion, women filled 19% of seats. –Lonergan Partner Insights

Women represent 13% of the directors on the SV150 boards—which is lower than the 19% of seats they fill in the S&P 500. – Lonergan Partner Insights

Women’s representation on the FTSE 100 has more than doubled to 26 percent in October 2015 from 12.5 percent in February 2011, and there is no longer a single all-male board left in the FTSE 100, compared to 21 of these boards in 2011. –Kaye Scholer LLP

Women hold 17.9 percent of the board seats of the 2015 Fortune 1000 (out of 960 active companies), according to the 2020 study. Women only increased their percentage of board seats by one percent from 16.9 percent in 2014.  – Kaye Scholer LLP

The Spencer Stuart Report found that women represented 31 percent of new directors in 2015, compared to 30 percent in 2014 and only 21 percent in 2010. –Kaye Scholer LLP

PwCs’ 2015 Annual Corporate Directors Survey reports that nearly 40 percent of directors now say that “someone on their board should be replaced,” up from 31 percent three years ago. – Kaye Scholer LLP   – Kaye Scholer LLP

Forty-five percent of the 2015 Fortune 1000 companies had 20 percent or greater women on their board, while only nine percent had no women on their boards compared to 18 percent in 2011. – Kaye Scholer LLP

According to the Spencer Stuart Report, only three percent of S&P 500 board had no women members, and 73 percent of S&P 500 companies have two or more women directors on their board. – Kaye Scholer LLP

One-quarter of companies in the S&P 500 in 2015 had only one female director. – The Washington Post

According to the 2020 study, of the 199 companies that joined 2015 Fortune 1000 since 2010, the percentage of board seats held by women was only 13.5 percent. Many companies go public without one woman on their board! Companies in the Fortune 501-1000 are adding women, but at a slower pace; among these companies, 648 women hold 17 percent of board seats, versus 20.1 percent of board seats held by 1,012 women in the Fortune 500. – Kaye Scholer LLP

Women board members represent only 13 percent of the directors in the SV150, according to the Lonergan Report, while representing 22 percent of the total new SV150 board appointees in 2014-15. Only a handful of SV150 companies have three or more non-CEO women directors. – Kaye Scholer LLP

If equal proportions of women + men joined boards each year beginning in 2015, GAO estimated that it could take more than four decades for women’s representation on boards to be on par with that of men’s GAO

As of the end of 2016, 21 boards had achieved parity, while 42 additional companies had between 40% and 50% female representation. – Equilar

 

Board Composition & Member Profiles

The proportion of equity in director compensation is noticeably different between particular sectors in the S&P 500. For example, the amount paid in cash, as compared to the total value of a directors’ total compensation, fluctuates between approximately 35% (the average in the healthcare sector) and 50% (the average in utilities). These two proportions are outside the range of average cash compensation for the remaining six sectors, which ranges between 42% and 47%. For the S&P 500 overall, directors were awarded 42.3% of compensation in cash on average. –Equilar

Newbie directors account for 32% of board members elected in 2016 –Agenda

A recent (2017) board index reports that during the period of 2013 to 2016, demand for directors with financial backgrounds in banking, finance, investment or accounting led to an increase in the percentage of new directors with such backgrounds on S&P 500 boards, from 18% to 25%. The increase in the finance cohort has been fueled by the rising percentage of new directors with investing and investment management backgrounds. In 2016, new directors with such backgrounds made up 12% of new directors added to boards, compared to 4% in 2011. –Agenda

The average board size for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was 10.8 last year, according to the Spencer Stuart board index. Fortune

While the pan­elists were careful to stress that every board is dif­ferent, they noted some gen­er­al­i­ties regarding com­mit­ment: Five to six board meet­ings a year as well as indi­vidual com­mittee meet­ings, some of which may involve travel, and about 400 pages of mate­rial to read before board-director meet­ings.  – Northeastern University

Twenty percent of the board seats at S&P 1500 companies are held by directors nearing or exceeding the common board retirement age of 72; Roughly 27% of current board seats could turn over in the next five years – EY

Board members attend an average of 8 meetings per year – Spencer Stuart

Directors of companies in the S&P 500 now sitting on an average of a little more than two public company boards – thestreet.com

The median turnover rate for board members of prominent U.S. firms is seven percent per year, and the average number of board seats is 10.8 – CED

The turnover rate for board positions is low with only 6.7 percent of all seats turned over in 2014 – Heidrick & Struggle

There are currently 5,587 board members on the boards of the 500 companies in the S&P 500.  The S&P 500 comprises 500 of the top ranked companies in the world.   – George Bickerstaff

Of the 286 boards that impose a numerical limit for all directors, 5% cap additional directorships at two boards, 30% at three boards, 41% at four boards and 24% at five or more – Foley

The SEC requires disclosure of whether and if so, how, a nominating committee considers diversity but over half of the disclosures fail to comply with these requirements – SEC

Following is a summary of the profiles of the board members from companies in the S&P 500:

  • The average S&P 500 company has 11 people on their board of directors.  Twenty-two percent of the 4,568 people on S&P 500 boards are currently on more than one S&P 500 board.
  • The average age of a board member is 62 years old.  The youngest is 30 with 26 board members being under that age of 40.
  • Less than 20% of the 5,587 board seats on S&P 500 companies are held by women.
  • The average board member holds 1.9 degrees and has been a key executive or board member of 11 companies.
  • The top three schools attended were Harvard, Stanford and Chicago.
  • The median compensation of an S&P 500 company board member is $270,000 per year. – George Bickerstaff

The board members of the top 25 company Power Ranked companies (for Power Rank) have deeper education (2.0 degrees vs 1.9 degrees), more business experience (13.9 affiliations compared with 11.0 average) and broader board experience (11.8 boards compared with an average of 9.3 in the S&P 500).  –George Bickerstaff

The average age of directors in S&P 500 companies has risen to 63.1 this year from 60 in 1998. – New York Times

According to the Lonergan Report, there were three or more nonexecutive directors with over 10 years of tenure on the board at 46 companies in the SV150.  – Kaye Scholer LLP

In Silicon Valley, a recent report by Lonergan Partners, Insights: Who Runs Silicon Valley? Board of Directors Edition notes that out of the SV150, 105 companies had at least one member who had filled the seat more than ten years and 27% of non-CEO seats were filled with directors with over ten years of service.   – Kaye Scholer LLP

The typical SV150 board director is a man. 1,003 of 1,156 total director seats were filled by men—that’s 87%. – Lonergan Partner Insights

Profile of the Typical Woman Director:

  • Younger than the men

The average age for women is 57 years as opposed to 59 for men.

The average age of the “new class” of women directors elected in 2014-15 is 54 years.

  • Is US in “origin”

Fifteen percent of women-filled seats were held by directors who were not of US origin as compared to nineteen percent of men-filled seats.

  • Is more likely to have an elite education than the men

Forty-five percent have a degree from a Top 10 US Ranked University, while only thirty-seven percent of men do.

  • Is a Graduate Degree Holder

Eighty percent have a graduate degree versus seventy-one percent of men. –Lonergan Partner Insights

 

Boards Need Diversity

African-American men increased their presence in Fortune 500 boardrooms by 2 percent. Their female counterparts increased their portion of seats by 18.4 percent. But the report also found that African-Americans had the highest rate of serving on multiple boards. (2016) –The New York Times

In 2016, fewer than 20 percent of board seats were held by African Americans/Blacks, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics/Latino(a)s, though this is still a larger number than in the Fortune 500 as a whole. –Deloitte

Currently (2016), 65 percent of Fortune 100 boards have greater than 30 percent board diversity, compared to the Fortune 500 where that percentage drops to just under 50 percent of boards. Deloitte

A new study by researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Delaware finds that “diverse” people (women and minorities) on the boards at more than 1,800 companies are paid about 3% to 9% less than their “non-diverse” (white and male) counterparts. The researchers also concluded that it’s uncommon for women and minorities to chair or serve on important committees, too. – Fortune

The desire to keep women’s representation low defies reason, at least when considering financial repercussions. As PwC notes, “research has shown that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of female directors attained significantly higher financial performance, on average, than those with the lowest representation of female directors.” PwC cited a 2011 Catalyst study on the topic. – Business Insider

African Americans accounted for 9.3 percent of new directors in 2015, up from 8.3 percent in 2014. – Hunt Scanlon Media

The percentage of African American new directors has increased from 5.3 percent in 2009. African Americans accounted for 12.4 percent of the U.S. population in 2014, up slightly from 12.3 percent in 2010. – Hunt Scanlon Media

Asian and Asian American directors accounted for 4.8 percent of board seats filled in 2015 the report also revealed, down from 5.3 percent in 2014. – Hunt Scanlon Media

Directors of Asian descent have accounted for an average of 5.2 percent of new appointments over the past seven years (2009 to 2016), with no trend up or down. – Hunt Scanlon Media

Overall, people of Asian descent accounted for 5.3 percent of the U.S. population in 2014, up from 4.8 percent in 2010. – Hunt Scanlon Media

Of 399 new directors appointed by Fortune 500 companies in 2015, only 16 were Hispanic. – Hunt Scanlon Media

Over the past seven years (2009 to 2016), an average of 4.7 percent of new directors have been Hispanic. That dire statistic reveals there has been no discernible upward trend. – Hunt Scanlon Media

According to data March 11 (2016) data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, 24 Fortune 500 companies currently have no women on their boards. –Fortune

A 2015 study by McKinsey and Co. found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to financially outperform those in the bottom quartile. –Fortune

Studies that show the more diverse the board, the better the results of the company. Diverse boards have 53% higher ROE, 42% higher ROS, 66% higher ROIC – Catalyst

Only 16% of S&P 1500 board seats are held by women- less than the proportion of seats held by directors named John, Robert, James, and William – EY

When asked about the specific profiles needed in the boardroom, women and minority directors emerged as the top recruiting priorities, with 71% of respondents saying their board is looking for female directors and 64% saying their board is seeking minority directors – Spencer Stuart

A study, called “Women in Business: The Value of Diversity,” looked at 1,050 businesses—200 in India, 350 in the UK, and 500 in the US—and compared the companies with at least one female executive board member with those run entirely by men. It found that the diverse boards had a higher return on assets, on average, than the male-only boards. – Quartz

A report by the McKinsey Global Institute that showed $28 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if men and women contributed equally to the workforce. –Quartz

Of the 990 companies in three markets studied by Grant Thornton that had female board members, 127, or 13%, were employed as executives. – Quartz

The PwC study reported that “67% of mega-cap directors think diversity is ‘very important’ to board composition compared to only 31% of directors at micro-cap companies,” while “62% of directors with less than one year of board service ‘very much’ agree that having diversity on the board is important, compared to only 39% of directors who have tenure of greater than ten years.”  – Kaye Scholer LLP

According to the PwC study, female directors think that both gender and racial diversity is more important than their male counterparts, and women are much more likely to believe strongly that board diversity leads to enhanced board and company performance.  – Kaye Scholer LLP

More women on boards and in senior management can increase profitability, according to research by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Ernst & Young LLP. BloombergBusiness

The February (2016) study of more than 21,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries found that those with at least 30 percent women directors and executives could add as much as 6 percentage points to net margins. BloombergBusiness

A 2014 Catalyst study found that having more women in leadership and board positions resulted in better financial performance while increasing innovation and group performance. –Fortune


Growth Opportunities for Boardrooms

Only 19% of respondents believe their boards possess a high level of cybersecurity knowledge. Only 42% of respondents feel confident that their companies are properly secured against a cyberattack. NACD

Strengthening active board involvement in strategy development is one of the major improvement goals for 50% of directors. –NACD

Economic uncertainty and business-model disruption are among the top concerns for corporate boards in 2017. Respondents also report that major industry changes, growing regulatory demands, and cyberattacks will significantly affect their companies over the next 12 months. – NACD

Eighty per­cent of board seats are filled through net­working – Northeastern University

Last year, publicly-traded companies with all-male boards lost out on a total of $655 billion in potential profits across India, the UK and the US, research by Chicago, Illinois-based accountancy firm Grant Thornton found. – Quartz

Directors believe that their boards would make better decisions if the board was more open to debate. Over three quarters of the 345 female board director respondents to the survey agreed that their board “would reach better conclusions if they were more open to debate and argument,” and 93% said that succeeding as a board member requires receptivity to criticism. – Women Corporate Directors and Bright Enterprises Inc.

A recently released study by Grant Thornton reports that an analysis of the return-on-assets ratio for companies in each of the S&P 500, FTSE 350 and India-CNX 200 conducted in 2015 showed that, on average, companies with at least one female executive board member outperformed those with male-only boards. Indeed, the report concludes, “S&P 500 companies with diverse boards outperformed rivals by 1.91%.” – Kaye Scholer LLP

MSCI, looked at more than 4,000 public companies around the world and found those with boardrooms featuring “strong female leadership” saw a 36.4% greater return on equity since the study began in 2009: 10.1% vs. a 7.4% return for the companies with a more male-dominated leadership.  – Fortune

 

International Boardroom Statistics

The 2016 Global Board Diversity Analysis, which looks at board data from 1,491 public companies across 44 countries, finds that, while the U.S. initially led the charge in diversifying corporate culture, it has fallen behind much of the developed world over the past four years. Fortune

In 2012, women accounted for 19% of board seats on U.S. companies, while women in Western Europe held about 15.6% of seats. Four years later, the U.S. has seen incremental progress—women now make up about 20% of directors—while that percentage has jumped to 25.6% in Western Europe. Fortune

Women currently hold 19 percent of board positions there (In the US), while in European countries such as France, Norway, and Sweden, where legislative or voluntary targets are in place, they hold more than 30 percent. McKinsey (2017)

Women make up just 10.2 percent of all directors across boardrooms in Asia Pacific, according to a recent study by Korn Ferry and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School’s Center for Governance, Institutions and Organizations (CGIO). The research showed some countries with very low female board representation, including: South Korea (women only occupying 2.6 percent of boards seats); Japan (3.3 percent); and Singapore (7.7 percent). Most of the countries reviewed in the report showed little or no improvement in gender diversity, with the exception of Australia, Malaysia and India. – Hunt Scanlon Media

Within Latin America, women hold only 6.5 percent of board positions, according to Egon Zehnder’s ‘2016 Latin American Board Diversity Analysis’ report. Low female board representation was widespread through the region with only Columbia (14 percent) having more than 10 percent of women board directors. All other countries had eight percent or less. – Hunt Scanlon Media

Many EU countries have set target quotas for the number of women on public or government boards. While some are on target to meet these goals, many countries will likely fall short.

  • Austria (35% by 2018) and Finland (40%) have set targets only for government-owned company boards – Votre
  • Belgium requires 30% minimum of either sex on each board of both government-owned and public companies – Votre
  • In France, 40% of board positions must be made up of women by 2017 – Votre
  • In Germany, a bill will be introduced in 2016 to require the largest companies to have 30% female representation on their boards – Telegraph
  • In Italy, public limited companies and state-owned companies must have at least 33% of each gender on their boards (executives and non-executives) by 2015 – EC
  • In the Netherlands, 30% of supervisor and management board seats must be held by women by 2016 – Votre
  • In Norway, the quota is 40% women on boards of listed and non-listed public limited companies, inter-municipal companies, state companies, municipal companies and co-operative companies – Votre
  • In Spain, the quota is 40% minimum of either sex by 2015 – Votre
  • In the UK, the government has set a target quota of 25% – Votre

Currently women make up less than 17 per cent of Nasdaq 100 boards in the US and just a quarter of FTSE 100 boards in the UK. –Financial Times

European countries continue to lead on gender diversity in the boardroom, with Norway, France, Sweden and Italy among the countries with the highest percentage of women serving on boards. Regionally, countries in the Americas and Asia Pacific region have progressed the least. – Deloitte

With respect to women chairs, the three regions have approximately the same percentage: EMEA (5 percent), the Americas (4 percent) and Asia-Pacific (4 percent). – Deloitte

Globally, 12% of board seats are held by women and 4% of boards are chaired by women. – Deloitte

At just 13.6%, the Consumer Business industry has the highest percentage of women on their boards globally, while the manufacturing industry has the lowest percentage of women on boards at 9.7%. – Deloitte

The Davies Report recommended a new voluntary target for women’s representation on FTSE 350 boards of a minimum of 33 percent to be achieved within the next five years, a goal that has been endorsed by the U.K. government.– Kaye Scholer LLP

The 2020 study shows in the Fortune 100, 22.3 percent of the board seats were held by women in October 2015, compared to 26 percent in the FTSE 100, and 19.7 percent for the Fortune 500, versus 19.6 percent for the FTSE 250. – Kaye Scholer LLP

MSCI also found that just over 15% of the board seats at companies it tracked worldwide were occupied by women as of 2015, and about 17% among U.S. companies. Based on current trends, MSCI predicts the global percentage of female board directors is unlikely to hit 30% until 2027. – Fortune

In early 2015, 23 Fortune 500 companies still had entirely male boards, while the percentage of female board directors in the Fortune 500 only grew by about 3.3% over the past decade.  – Fortune

Women hold less than a quarter of board seats in the majority of countries surveyed by Catalyst. Norway comes top, with women accounting for more than 35% of board seats at stock index companies.   – World Economic Forum

Germany’s new law requiring that women hold 30% of top board seats went into effect this January (2016)—but many companies don’t seem to have noticed. The law, which passed last year (2015), requires the top 100 or so publicly traded companies to hit the 30% figure figure as of January 1, 2016. The quota applies specifically to supervisory boards, which are made up of outside directors elected by shareholders and workers, who appoint management and approve major business decisions. They are separate from a management board that runs day to day operations. – Fortune

Women now hold about 22% of supervisory board seats at Germany’s top companies, according to a new study from the Hans Böckler Foundation. – Fortune

Norway, France, the Netherlands, Italy and other countries on the continent already have corporate gender quotas in place. (In the U.S., which has no quotas, women held about 19% of the board seats of S&P 500 companies as of early last year.) – Fortune

Globally efforts to put women into senior roles are moving at a snail’s pace, according to a report from advisory firm Warth & Klein Grant Thornton AG. In the last five years the share of women in senior roles around the world has risen 3%. The report estimates that if growth continues at the same rate, workplace gender parity won’t be attained until 2060. – Fortune

A law passed in 2011 dictates that 40% of board members of CAC 40 companies must be women by (2017) next year  (the currently prevailing level is 35%). Companies that don’t meet the target won’t be allowed to make any board-level changes that don’t contribute to fulfilling the quota. –Fortune

Women make up 28 of the 44 board appointments that members of France’s CAC 40 index have submitted for approval at their general meetings this year. –Fortune


Annual Boardroom Survey Results

PricewaterhouseCoopers released its 2015 Annual Corporate Directors Survey on October 6, 2015, which surveyed nearly 800 corporate board members. The results reveal division between the way male and female directors view the issue of diversity:

  • 35 percent of the male directors said diversity on the board is “very important,” compared with 63 percent of the women.
  • 80% of the women surveyed said they “very much” agree that diversity leads to more effective boards, compared with just 40 percent of the men.
  • The male directors were also less likely than women to view racial diversity as very important, and less likely to believe there were enough qualified diverse candidates for board seats.
  • 74 percent of female directors said they strongly agree board diversity leads to better  company performance, compared with just 31 percent of the male directors. – PwC

Highlights of the findings from the 2015 survey, “Criticism and Its Place in the Boardroom,” include:

  • Directors see direct link between the board’s effectiveness and how open the board is to argument and debate: 77% of respondents agree that their board would reach better conclusions if it were more open to debate and argument.
  • While criticism is highly valued by directors, many are not getting the training for it: 79% of directors feel that board members would benefit greatly from training in the giving and receiving of criticism, but 50% said that they have never received formal training on how to give criticism; 42% report no training on how to be a receptive receiver of criticism.
  • Criticism seen as a tool for change: 94% of board members believe that when criticism is used properly, it is a powerful influencer and motivator for bringing about change.
  • Criticism intended to hurt or be destructive may be waning in the workplace: Nearly 25% of respondents believe criticism intended to hurt is more prevalent now that it was 10 years ago, but more directors – nearly 38% – do not agree that it is more prevalent now.
  • Only just over half of directors believe that the CEO of their company takes criticism well: Looking to their relationship with the CEO, 53% of respondents said that the CEO of the company takes criticism well; 30% of directors disagreed and 17% were unsure.
  • Similar feedback on fellow directors: When asked if their fellow directors take criticism well, only about 50% agree; 33% are unsure.
  • More than one third have felt their critique of another director misinterpreted: 37% of directors can recall incidences where their criticism of another board member was misinterpreted as being accusatory or unjustly negative.

Most directors would like to de-personalize criticism from other directors: 62% of directors agreed or strongly agreed that their role as a board director would be positively impacted if they were better at not personalizing what others said. –Women Corporate Directors and Bright Enterprises Inc.

 

Silicon Valley Boards

Silicon Valley boards remain overwhelmingly male. Eighty-seven percent of directors and 97% of chairmen were, well, men. The numbers for women were up slightly over previous years, but not by much – Stanford Business

Female directors were noticeably more common at the 30 biggest companies than at the younger and smaller ones. – Stanford Business

At the big companies, women held 18% of all the directorships, and more than half of the big companies had more than 2 women on their boards. – Stanford Business

  • 97% of board chairman are men
  • 87% of board directors are men
  • 1/5 of board members are also on the board of at least one other Silicon Valley 150 firm
  • At 26 companies the founder also served as the chairmen and CEO (out of the surveyed companies that went public since 2010) – Stanford Business

Beyond gender, the makeup of Silicon Valley boards reflects strong social and experiential ties. Almost one-fifth of all Silicon Valley directors — a whopping 209 out of 1,156 — had undergraduate or graduate degrees from Stanford. Harvard degree-holders accounted for the second-biggest group — 132 directors. The University of California, Berkeley, came in third, with 38 directors. – Stanford Business

 

Board Skills, Processes, and Priorities

Of the 60% of directors who see a gap between the expectations placed on boards and the reality of the board’s ability to oversee a company, 64% believe expectations moderately exceeded reality. Strikingly, 25% believed expectations far exceeded reality. – PR Newswire

For the most part, boards appear to be adequately matching the skills that they consider most important for board service to the skills that they aimed to acquire in their most recent board appointment. Industry knowledge and financial/audit skills were 2 of the top 3 skills cited as “most important for board service today” and were also sought after in recent board candidates. – PR Newswire

In one notable exception to the finding above, 67% of respondents cited strategy as one of the most important areas of expertise for directors today – the highest of all skills named – but only 33% of respondents said that strategy expertise was among the skills the board most wanted to acquire with its most recent appointment. – PR Newswire

Behind the “top 3” of strategy and financial/audit expertise and specific industry knowledge, directors also cited risk management and international/global expertise as most important to board service today. Areas named least frequently as important were sales and marketing, and compensation and succession planning expertise. – PR Newswire

As greater regulatory requirements have put board performance under a microscope, many boards have instituted evaluations as part of their structure. Indeed, the survey revealed that more than two-thirds of boards conduct performance evaluations of directors. One-third of respondents have served on a board where evaluations were used to remove a director, showing that the evaluations do have teeth. – PR Newswire

Showing the value directors see in networking – which increases opportunities for both gaining knowledge and recruiting new board candidates – directors are spending an average of 9.4 hours/month on networking with peers. Women are investing a bit more time in this activity (10.1 hours vs. 9.1 hours average) and in planning/strategizing about their career than men (4 hours/month vs. 2.9 hours/month). – PR Newswire

Both male and female directors feel that board leaders’ serving as champions of board diversity is the #1 way to build diverse corporate boards. They rated this board leadership support as a far more important factor in building diversity than setting diversity targets or requirements or shareholders’ demanding diversity. – PR Newswire

Directors report an average of 6.6 full meetings per year, with a high attendance rate (95%). Boards for companies based in Australia & New Zealand meet most frequently (9.3 meetings/year), compared to just 4.9 meetings/year for firms based in Africa. North American directors reported an average of 5.8 meetings/year, and those in Western Europe reported 7.5 meetings/year. – PR Newswire

Most directors think that current compensation levels are set appropriately, but are more likely to think director compensation is too low. While 80% of respondents believed that compensation level of the CEO at their company was “about right” and only 12% believed it was too low, only 65% of directors felt that the compensation of directors on their board was “about right” and 32% believed it was too low. – PR Newswire

Annual Election

Investors have pushed companies broadly over the past few decades to move to more frequent director elections. Less than 11 percent of S&P 500 companies have staggered board elections today, down from 32 percent in 2011. – Equilar.

At annual meetings last year, ten proposals seeking declassified boards received 80 percent support from shareholders on average. – Fundvotes.com

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