corporate governance

Women Directors: Gaining Ground

Our recently released 2nd annual 2020 Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 companies showed that women now hold 15.6% of the board seats of Fortune 1000 companies, up a percentage point from last year. At this rate of growth, we are well on our way to surpass the campaign goal of 20% by 2020.
Smaller companies (numbers 501 - 1000) showed the largest gain this year, 13.6% in 2012 compared with 12.4% in 2011 when the 2020 Index was introduced. We were particularly pleased to see the gains in this group because historically, smaller companies have been slower to add women to their boards than larger companies (in Fortune 100 companies almost 20% (19.9%) of the board seats are held by women).
The number of "W" companies (those with 20% or more women) grew this year to 308 from 273 last year, a gain of 13%. The number of Z companies (those with no women on their boards) fell in 2012 to 152 from 177 in 2011, a 14% change. Ten companies this year added two or more women to their boards, which boosted one, Benchmark Electronics, from Z to W status.
Catch us in the Wall Street Journal:

Board Diversity: Does England’s Corporate Governance Code Push Harder than the SEC’s Governance Disclosure Rule?

England’s revised corporate governance code calls for boards that are “well balanced” with gender diversity to avoid “group think.” The revised code is an effort by the government to avoid future banking crises. Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned a report on what the government could do to increase the number of women directors. He said that more women on corporate boards would increase productivity. The report is due in February.
On this side of the pond, in 2009 the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted “The Governance Disclosure Rule.” The rule requires companies to consider diversity when nominating director candidates. The SEC doesn’t define diversity letting public companies to figure it out for themselves. The SEC notes that investor knowledge about diversity policies is useful, and says that a meaningful relationship between diverse boards and improved corporate financial performance exists.
We hope that in 2011 the S.E.C. will take a leadership role in defining diversity so there is no ambiguity about the issue. We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year and look forward to reporting on gains in the number of women directors in the months to come. If you haven’t done so already, please register your support for 2020 Women on Boards. Together we can make it happen!

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