In the battle to bring more women into the boardroom, some cities are doing better than others.
In 2014, women held 17.9% of director positions at the 50 largest public companies in the Chicago area, according to a new analysis conducted by Deloitte. While that figure comes in just slightly better than the nationwide stat of 17.7% of board seats filled by women, Chicago is far outpacing cities like Los Angeles, where only 7.7% of directors are female. Also, while only four of the “Chicago 50” have no women on their boards, more than 25% of the 400 largest corporations across California have no female directors.
In the state of Illinois, the company with the most gender-diverse staff is Ulta Beauty. Led by CEO Mary Dillon, Ulta’s board of directors is 50% female and nearly 30% of its executives officers are women as well. In an interview with Fortune, Dillon said that company executives should be able to recruit diverse talent regardless of the location of their headquarters. Yet the CEO did acknowledge that the breadth of industries represented in Chicago, combined with the cities’ many pro-business policies and tax breaks, does help a city-wide effort to make the boardroom as diverse as possible.
Dillon also brushed off the suggestion that Ulta’s position as a beauty company makes it better positioned to attract top female talent to the boardroom.
“I don’t think it should be an industry specific issue at all,” she said. “If a company want to cast its net widely, they will absolutely find qualified women. I don’t really think there are any real barriers to that.”