Boardroom Diversity: When Women Lead

In our 2016 mid-year report, 2020 Women on Boards delved into the board data of the 2015 Fortune 1000 companies to research how many women directors there were, whether they were on multiple boards, and whether women in leadership positions create opportunities for more women to serve on boards. We discovered a broad pool of qualified women, evidence that they are helping other women, and the “Amazing Dozen,” who serve on four or more boards.


  • Boards with female CEOs, Board Chairs, or Nominating Committee Chairs are significantly more gender diverse than boards with male leadership.

  • Of the Fortune 1000 companies with a female CEO or Board Chair, 88% and 86% of companies respectively have already met or surpassed 2020 Women on Boards’ goal of having 20% or more women on the board. This compares to 42% of all Fortune 1000 companies.

  • Contrary to popular belief, Fortune 1000 board seats held by women are not monopolized by an elite subset of individuals. Seventy-five percent of female directors devote their attention to a single Fortune 1000 company board, although many may also be on smaller company boards.

  • Twelve women serve on four or more Fortune 1000 boards and come from a variety of professional backgrounds including law, politics, academia, and non-CEO executive positions as well as the C-suite. This “Amazing Dozen” shows that there are a multitude of paths to the boardroom and that America’s top companies value diversity of experience.