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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.


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.


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.


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

Which companies and industries in the Russell 3000 Index have gender equity (or even close to full representation for women)? FactSet analyzed the board and leadership makeup of companies on the market-capitalization-weighted equity index. Spoiler alert: none of the stats suggest gender diversity is coming into balance overall, however, there were some bright spots.

  • The percentage of companies with zero female board members has fallen to 18%
  • 47% have boards comprised of less than 15% female members
  • 14 companies have female-majority boards
  • 22 companies have equal male/female representation
  • Although only 151 companies in the Russell 3000 have a female CEO (5.1%) this is up from 143 in March 2017 Fast Company

We examined the shareholder benefits from increasing the number of female board members, as well as the gender diversity of boards among new IPOs. Here, we take a deeper dive into this data at a sector level, to see how companies in different industries compare in terms of female representation at the CEO level and at the board of directors’ level.

In our initial analysis in March 2017, we found that 23% of companies within the Russell 3000 had zero female board members and 58% had boards composed of less than 15% female members. At that time, there were just five companies with female-majority boards: Tootsie Roll, American Water Works Company, Connecticut Water Service, Hologic, and Navient. The good news is that the percentage of companies with zero female board members has fallen to 18% and now 47% have boards comprised of less than 15% female members. Today, 14 companies have female-majority boards, and an additional 22 companies have 50/50 male/female representation. We also looked at gender diversity at the CEO level. We found that 151 companies in the Russell 3000 have a female CEO, just 5.1%. This is up from 143 in March 2017. Fast Company

Russell Sector No. of companies Male % Female %
Technology 339 332 97.9% 8 2.4%
Health Care 465 437 94.0% 28 6.0%
Consumer Discretionary 420 384 91.4% 37 8.8%
Consumer Staples 100 97 97.0% 3 3.0%
Energy 175 167 95.4% 8 4.6%
Materials & Processing 190 179 94.2% 11 5.8%
Producer Durables 380 362 95.3% 19 5.0%
Financial Services 782 756 96.7% 26 3.3%
Utilities 99 88 88.9% 11 11.1%
Notes: Where CEO or top leadership function is shared by male leaders, company is counted once.
Where CEO or top leadership function is shared by male and female leaders, company is counted once in each category.
Data as of September 19, 2018

One of the most interesting things to come out of our analysis was the strong correlation between having a female CEO and having high female representation on the board of directors. Of the 521 companies in the Russell 3000 that have zero female board members, only four have female CEOs, and one of those four, IES Holdings, Inc., has a male co-CEO as well. That means that .6% of companies without female board members have female CEOs, compared to 6% of companies with at least one female board member. The percent of companies with female CEOs increases to 9% when 20% or more of board members are female and to a third when 40% or more are female. We found that this correlation held true across all sectors of the Russell 3000. Fast Company

Russell Sector No. of companies No. with 0 Women % Avg. % Male Avg. % Female
Technology 339 68 20.1% 83.9 16.1
Health Care 465 115 24.7% 84.7 15.3
Consumer Discretionary 420 49 11.7% 78.6 21.4
Consumer Staples 100 15 15.0% 80.8 19.2
Energy 175 54 30.9% 88.3 11.7
Materials & Processing 190 30 15.8% 82.8 17.2
Producer Durables 380 73 19.2% 83.6 16.4
Financial Services 782 107 13.7% 83.1 16.9
Utilities 99 10 10.1% 78.0 22.0
Data as of September 19, 2018
Source: FactSet and Fast Company

State Street says it’s running out of patience with the nearly 1,000 companies around the world that haven’t yet responded to pressure to add at least one woman to their boards of directors. – Bloomberg

From January to May, women made up 31 percent of new board directors at 3,000 of the largest publicly traded U.S. companies, according to a data analysis by corporate governance firm Institutional Shareholder Services. That’s the highest percentage of female board seats in at least a decade. – CNBC

About a dozen of the largest U.S. companies have yet to add even a single female director to their board. – CNBC

Of the 94 REIT directors newly elected during the spring (2018) proxy season, 49—or 52%—are women, according to a study by Ferguson Partners, a professional services firm specializing in executive and board recruitment. It was the first time men comprised less than the majority of the new directors. – The Wall Street Journal

In 2018, 32% of newly elected directors in the Russell 3000 are women. In 2017, 41% of newly elected directors to REIT boards were women. – The Wall Street Journal

Women accounted for 38.3% of all newly named directors at Fortune 500 companies in 2017. – Quartz at Work

Overall, just 17.5% of all directors on REIT boards are women, up from 14% in 2017. There are 32 REITs, or 16.7% of the 192 REITs, with no women board members, down from 21% in 2017, according to Ferguson Partners. The majority of the REITs, 69.3%, have one or two women on their boards.  – The Wall Street Journal

Slow Growth

Despite calls for increasing gender diversity on public company boards, progress has been scant. On average, only 16.5 percent of board seats of companies in the Russell 3000 index are held by women. But 53 percent of boards now have a formal goal to diversify their composition. Of those boards, 70 percent report that their diversity mandate is driven by the need to enhance cognitive diversity of boards, while 49 percent indicate that increased diversity is a moral imperative. – NACD

Out of 1,228 companies identified globally by State Street that lack a female board member, 301 have added a woman and another 28 have committed to do so. – Bloomberg

Board Composition & Member Profiles

Nearly half, 49.5 percent, of boards (in the Russell 3000 index) now have two or more female directors. Gender diversity on boards of these companies is strongly correlated with company size. Larger public companies tend to have larger boards and more seats occupied by women. Notwithstanding their size, these organizations also give a larger percentage of board seats to women. An organization with $10 billion or more in revenue is likely to have 12 or more board seats, 2 or 3 of which will be occupied by women. Contrast this with organizations under $2 billion in market capitalization, which on average have a board size of nine individuals with one seat occupied by a woman. – NACD

In the past year, the number of board seats held by women in the Russell 3000 has increased from 15 percent to 16.5 percent. The largest portion of this increase is within larger organizations. NACD

Boards Need Diversity

In order to reap the benefits of gender diversity, at least three women are needed to change the way the board is run and the way women are able to share their insights.  – The Associated Press

Growth Opportunities for Boardrooms
Egon Zehnder believes the approach of business must change if we are to make real progress on gender diversity: Pick for Potential – our work with businesses has found that certain personal traits are better indicators of success than a lengthy CV Make Leadership Accountable – a focus on diversity has to be a core part of a company’s strategy, and an explicit goal set by senior leaders and directors Raise Your Ambitions: Focus on Three – until a board achieves the critical mass of three women, little is likely to change. Directors must be proactive in spotting female talent, and consider board term limits or more active turnover Train the Board for Success – chairs and directors must prepare the board for the fact that diversity of perspectives and opinions could make doing the work of the board less efficient, but more effective  – The Associated Press

International Boardroom Statistics

A new study out this morning from MSCI (a provider of market indexes and portfolio and risk management tools and services) found that among the 2,700 companies in its All Country World Index, a slightly larger share of firms—78.7%—had at least one female director as of mid-October 2018 than in 2017 (77.4%). That incremental progress means that it will take until 2029 for companies in the index to reach 30% female representation in the boardroom—two years longer than MSCI projected in 2015.  The Broadsheet

MSCI did praise firms in emerging markets for their progress: 64% of such companies had at least one female director last year, up from 59.6% in 2017. It also cited the U.S.’s “modest progress” last year, which saw women occupy 23.4% of all directorships, an increase of 89 board seats in absolute terms. At the same time, 11 U.S. firms still had all-male boards as of mid-October, making the U.S. an outlier among developed nations outside of Asia. Australia and Canada for instance, each had just one firm with an all-male board; Germany had two. Companies in Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, meanwhile, accounted for the majority of boards with no female representation. The Broadsheet

Egon Zehnder, the world’s leadership advisory firm released the results of its 2018 Global Board Diversity Tracker. The study shows the accelerating growth seen in female directors in Western Europe is now levelling off, and growth elsewhere remains sluggish, suggesting gender parity on boards may never be reached at the current pace. – The Associated Press

The research, examining data from 1610 public companies with market caps above €7bn in 44 different countries, shows that despite the slow improvement in the number of women on boards, nearly three quarters of all new board positions worldwide still go to men. – The Associated Press

The number of women on boards continues to increase, but is losing momentum: 20.4% of board seats of the largest companies globally are held by women, up from 18.5% in 2016. France is the global leader, with 42% female board members, versus less than 6% in Hungary, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the UAE. In 2018, new board appointments made up 11.4% of all board positions globally, of which 27.0% were women, an improvement on the figure from the last report of 24.1%. This means that just 3.1% of all board positions are held by new female board members. However, appointments of female directors to boards varies heavily by region. Of new board appointments in 2018, 35% were women in Australasia, Western Europe, the US and Canada, against 16.7% in South America and 12.5% in Asia. In the US the overall percentage of female directors has risen by just 3.2% since 2012. – The Associated Press

While there has been significant progress in recent years, many companies are far from the “magic number” of three female directors: In 19 of the 44 countries studied, all of the major large cap companies have at least one female director—up from 15 countries in 2016, and just 8 in 2012. Yet in only 13 of 44 countries do the largest companies average three or more women per board, with five countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy) averaging four or more. All of these countries except for Sweden operate under some form of quota system. Western Europe is leading the way with an average of 3.8 women per board, followed by Australia/New Zealand with 2.7, and North America third with 2.5. – The Associated Press

Despite growing representation in the boardroom, the number of female executives and especially CEOs remains stubbornly low: Women make up just 3.7% of worldwide CEO positions, and that number has not changed over the past two years. Only 5.6% of executive board positions are held by women In 23 countries – including Norway, Germany and Canada that lead on other diversity metrics – there are NO female CEOs in the large set of companies studied.  – The Associated Press

Women still account for fewer than 5 per cent of the chief executive positions in the US, UK and Europe, according to new research that suggests efforts to diversify corporate leadership may be stalling. Financial Times

The study by Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm, found that women held 4.9 per cent of the top roles across 13 countries, with female representation in the chief executive position ranging from 6.9 per cent in the US to zero in Denmark and Italy. Financial Times

In some countries, the percentage has fallen in the past year. In the UK, the number of women holding FTSE 100 chief executive positions has slipped from seven to six, just below the number of CEOs named Dave or David. The number of FTSE 350 chief executives dropped from 15 to 12. Financial Times

The Heidrick report follows a study published in October in which the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute found that women made up 40 per cent of all employees and 35 per cent of all managers in the S&P 1500 US companies that disclose diversity metrics, but just 20 per cent of directors and 6 per cent of chief executives.  Financial Times

A paper published earlier this year by a group of academics led by Vishal Gupta of the University of Alabama found that female chief executives of publicly traded companies were more likely than their male peers to come under threat from activist investors. Financial Times



Men vs. Women

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

The share of seats that went to women in 2016 fell by two percentage points, to 27.8%, ending a seven-year run of year-on-year gains. This represents a drop to a level predating that of 2014. – Heidrick & Struggles

The Women’s Forum of New York salutes Peter Grauer and Bloomberg as corporate champions for advancing women on corporate boards and inspiring other companies to follow suit. Peter T. Grauer, Chairman of Bloomberg LP and Founding Chairman of the US 30% Club, cites that the pace of change at the board level has been moving at a glacial speed of less than 1% per year for the last 20 years. – The Huffington Post

According to board intelligence experts Equilar, who publish the Gender Diversity Index, 23% of Russell 3000 companies, representing the 3,000 largest listed U.S. companies, have zero female representation on their boards.  – PR Newswire

Women accounted for 37% of new board appointees serving on boards for the first time in 2016, nearly 10 percentage points higher than women’s share of new appointments overall. – PR Newswire

Women directors made substantial gains in the tech sector, with women accounting for 40% of the board seats filled in the industry. This is up roughly 13.5 percentage points compared to Heidrick & Struggles’ data from 2015. – PR Newswire

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

Women now hold more than 20% of the board seats of Fortune 1000 companies that comprise the Gender Diversity Index (GDI). – 2020 Women On Boards

In the 801 active GDI companies, women now hold 20.8% of the board seats, an increase from 19.7% in 2016 and 14.6% in 2011, when we first started tracking the data. – 2020 Women On Boards

Women experienced a net gain of 67 board seats, while men experienced a net loss of 183 seats since 2016’s report. – 2020 Women On Boards

The proportion of women named to the boards of companies in the Russell 3000 index was 16.2% in 2017, according to research firm Equilar. For tech companies, that figure was 14.3%, the latest evidence that the industry continues to lag others. – USA Today

More than 30% of public company tech boards have no women at all, compared with 78% of Russell 3000 companies that have at least one woman on their boards, Equilar found. That figure is improving. As recently as 2013, nearly half of those public company tech boards had no women. – USA Today

Sixty-eight percent of unicorn technology companies — those high-flyers with billion dollar-plus valuations — have no women on their boards, TheBoardlist found. And that proportion is growing, a 12% increase from a year ago. – USA Today

According to TheBoardlist, 91% of tech unicorn board seats and nearly 93% of private tech company board seats are held by men. Since July 2016, 74% of board seats of unicorn tech companies and 81% of private company board seats were filled by men. – USA Today

When a woman fills a board seat, there’s a 32% chance she’s already served as a director, yet when a man fills a board seat, there’s a 23% chance he’s already served as a director. – USA Today

Slow Growth

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

The number of public companies with all-female boards remains constant: It’s still zero. – Quartz

Gender parity in an incoming class of directors not expected until 2032. – PR Newswire

Heidrick & Struggles’ 2017 Board Monitor shows decline in percentage of women directors appointed to Fortune 500 boards. – PR Newswire

In 2016, women accounted for 27.8% of new director appointments at Fortune 500 companies, a 2.0 percentage point decline from the previous year.  – PR Newswire

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

Board Composition & Member Profiles

Almost 41% of Asian and Asian-American appointees went to technology boards. – Heidrick & Struggles

Current and former CEOs and CFOs together accounted for almost 66% of director appointments in 2016—down from the eight-year high of 73% in 2015.  – Heidrick & Struggles

Of the 421 board appointees in 2016, some 315, or almost 75%, had previous board experience.  – Heidrick & Struggles

About 33% of African-American appointees went to boards in the industrial sector. – Heidrick & Struggles

In 2016, Fortune 500 companies filled 421 vacant or newly created board seats with independent directors, a new high since the inception of Board Monitor in 2009. – PR Newswire

Women accounted for 37% of new board appointees serving on boards for the first time in 2016, nearly 10 percentage points higher than women’s share of new appointments overall. – PR Newswire

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

Boards Need Diversity

Larger companies continue to outperform smaller companies in diversifying their boards. In GDI F100 companies, 272 women hold 24% of the board seats, an average of 2.9 women directors per board, similar to last year’s results. In GDI F500 companies, 1051 women hold 22% of the board seats, an average of 2.5 directors per board, up from 2.3 directors last year. In smaller GDI F501-1000 companies, 677 women hold 18.8% of board seats, or 1.8 women directors per board, no change in women per board from last year. – 2020 Women On Boards

16% of corporate board members said that gender and racial diversity has no benefits at all. –Fortune

A new PwC survey of nearly 900 directors found that a majority of them—73%—recognize that diversity is beneficial. Of that segment, 94% said gender and racial diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom, 82% agreed that it enhances board performance, and 59% tied it to better company performance. –Fortune

33% and 24% of surveyed  respectively—saying socioeconomic diversity and racial diversity are “not at all important” to fostering diversity of thought in the boardroom. –Fortune

In 2016, 6.4% of new directors appointed were Hispanic—the highest figure recorded by Board Monitor—up from 4.0% in 2015. While Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in the boardroom relative to their percentage of the U.S. population, the data shows considerable improvement compared to previous reports and represents a 60% increase over 2015. – PR Newswire

Some 59% of Hispanic director appointees went to consumer boards, 15% to industrial boards, and 15% to financial services boards. In terms of total appointments by industry, Hispanics assumed almost 12% of available seats in consumer, 6.6% in financial services, 5% in technology, 3.7% in life sciences, 3% in industrial, and zero in business services. – PR Newswire

In the past four years (2012 – 2016), the aggregate proportion of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Asian-American appointments averaged 20.1%. – Heidrick & Struggles

In 2016, the percentage of Hispanic appointees, though still low compared with the overall US Hispanic population, reached the highest level recorded. Consumer companies led the way—almost 60% of Hispanic appointees went to boards in the consumer sector.  – Heidrick & Struggles

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. –The New York Times

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

Growth Opportunities for Boardrooms

Aside from Travelzoo, just four other NASDAQ or NYSE-listed companies have boards composed of over 60% women. – PR Newswire

International Boardroom Statistics

In the UK, only 27% of FTSE 100 directors are women. – PR Newswire

Several European countries, including Belgium, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, are trying to drive change through mandatory female quotas for boards. For example, Norway instituted a 40% quota for female representation on boards for the largest publicly traded companies. – PR Newswire

In Hong Kong, several recent reports state that 11% of Hang Seng-listed companies have women on their boards. – PR Newswire

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

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

Women hold 15 percent of board seats worldwide. – Deloitte

Women hold only 4 percent of CEO and board chair positions globally. – 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

Interesting Statistics Archives