board diversity

When Women Lead: Women Leaders Positively Impact Boardroom Diversity

Our flagship reports, “When Women Lead” (2020 Women on Boards 2016, 2017) showed that when women hold positions of leadership (CEO, Board Chair and Nominating Chair) boards are more gender diverse than boards of companies led by men. The reports looked at companies in the Fortune 1000 index for 2015 and 2016.

We revisited the topic this year, looking at companies in the 2017 Russell 3000 Index, from our newly expanded Gender Diversity Directory. The results are similar to last year’s findings: Of the 2871 active companies, 125 have female CEOs.  The percentage of women on their boards is 30.2%, double that of male CEOs’ boards at 15.4%.  Eighty percent of the companies with female CEOs are Winning “W” Companies at 20% or greater. Only 37% of all the Russell companies are “W” companies.
 
One hundred and ten companies have female board chairs. The percentage of women on their boards is 28.1% compared to male board chairs at 15.5%.

In Russell 3000 companies, there are 4,082 board seats held by 3110 unique women: 2242 (72%) of the women are on only one Russell 3000 board; 574 (18.5%) are on two boards; 225 (7.2%) on three boards; 64 (2.1%) on 4 boards; and 5 (.2%) on 5 boards. Many nominating committees of Russell 3000 companies have looked beyond a small group of “elite” women directors and found new, untapped talent.

Our research shows that women in corporate leadership positions impact the diversity of the boards of their companies. We call on male leaders to learn from their female colleagues and reap the benefits that a truly diverse board brings. 

To view the full report, click here.

2020 Exceeds Its Goal

We did it!
 
Three years ahead of schedule, we exceeded our campaign goal: women now hold 20.8% of the board seats of our GDI Fortune 1000 companies, a cohort of 801 companies remaining from our baseline 2010 Fortune 1000 list.
 
Today, more than half of our Index companies are Winning 'W's and the numbers of Zero 'Z' and Token 'T' companies are falling to an all-time low. We’re celebrating this breakthrough at our 6th National Conversation on Board Diversity on November 15 and 16 at 20 events in 19 cities across the country, with over 3000 people attending. But the work’s not done.
 
Fifty-five GDI companies have no women on their boards. Thirty-four of those companies have never had a woman director in the seven years that we’ve been tracking this data. Because smaller companies are slower to advance women to the boardroom, this year we have expanded our database to include companies on the Russell 3000 Index. True to form, women hold just 16.2% of the board seats for these companies. Thanks to Equilar, our new research partner, for providing us with the Russell 3000 data.
 

Fitbit Not Fit for Women

Fitbit, the colorful bracelet seen on the wrists of the fit and wanna-be fit, is not fit for women. The company that is dedicated to health and fitness of the masses is going public with no women on its five-member board – another technology company taking the lead from its male investors. We say it’s time that the VC community pay attention to stakeholders who want to see the boards of companies where they work, shop and invest reflect the population, more than half of which is women.
 
Of the ten biggest tech IPOs of 2015 (Wall Street Journal, 6/17) three are Zero 'Z' Companies with no women directors (Black Knight Financial Services, Shopify and Apigee) and five are Token 'T' Companies with one woman director (Innovation Holdings, GoDaddy, Evolent Health, Baozun and MaxPoint Interactive). Two of the companies are Winning 'W' Companies, with 20% or more board seats held by women (Etsy and Box).
 
We all know that women make up a huge number of Fitbit customers - maybe the majority. The same can be said of most of the companies on the 2015 technology IPO list. To imply that there are no women qualified to serve on the Fitbit board is ludicrous. At best it's a gross oversight. At worst, it's discrimination, plain and simple. Discriminating against your customer base is just bad business.
 
We implore Fitbit to put women on its board.

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