In the news recently, the number of FTSE 100 companies with all male boards is shrinking, from 11 to 9, with women now holding 15.6% of the board seats. That's good news and reflects well on the efforts of our sister organization, the 30% Club and the 2011 Lord Davies report warning companies to adopt a target of 25% by 2015 or face the consequences - quotas. English companies are getting the message, especially with EU quotas (30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020) being proposed.
Still and all, it's just 100 companies. In the US, our top companies do much better - 19.7% in the F100. But as 2020's research shows, the boards of smaller companies are gender challenged (just 12.4% in the F501-1000).
What's it going to take to get this situation off the dime? We think it's time for the SEC to shake things up and make their own recommendations on gender diversity targets.
The SEC's disclosure rule, which took effect in 2010, was a baby step. It requires companies to disclose whether diversity is a factor in considering board candidates, how diversity is considered in the process, and how companies assess the effectiveness of their policies in considering diversity.
Commissioner Luis Aguilar, who often speaks on the issue of diversity, acknowledged that, " while some companies provided useful information in the spirit of the SEC rule, many other companies provided only abstract disclosure." ..."By leaving out the steps taken and how those efforts are evaluated, these companies fail to provide investors with useful information, and it deprives investors of information they have demanded."
It's time for the SEC to put some muscle in the national discussion on board diversity and propose a target, much like Lord Davies did. Let's stop circling the issue and begin to make some tracks.