January 16, 2015
It seems that company boards are becoming less of an old-school boys’ club. While men still make up a majority of that populace, women are slowly increasing their numbers on corporate boards. According to the report from Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization that tracks women in executive positions across the globe, the United States saw increase in the percentage of women on corporate boards in 2014 – from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 19.2 percent.
Catalyst has been conducting the annual global census of women on boards for a few years. For last year’s census, however, they switched from looking at the annual board count of Fortune 500 companies to analyzing board counts on the S&P 500. While the increase may be attributed to the change in methodology, the numbers are still encouraging. Looking at similar research from Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., women board members on Fortune 500 companies (globally) saw a sizable increase between 2009 and 2014 – 18 percent in 2009 to 29 percent last year. Last year’s numbers from Catalyst put Avon, Estee Lauder, Macy’s, Proctor & Gamble, and Xerox ahead in terms of greatest percentage of women on their company boards, with each of them reporting that more than 40 percent of their boards were comprised of women.
The report also displayed an increase in the number of U.S. corporations with boards that comprised at least 25 percent women. In 2014, 131 U.S. companies listed on the S&P 500 had company boards made up of more than 25 percent women, including the likes of Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft – a positive sign in the tech industry’s attempt to diversify their company-wide compositions. In 2013, when Catalyst looked at Fortune 500 companies, the number of U.S. corporations stood at 25 – a significant increase. Again, it may be due to a change in methodology, but it’s notable.
Among the 20 countries that Catalyst surveyed, the United States tied with Australia for tenth place in the their women composition board numbers. Norway placed first, where the percentage of women on corporate boards stood at a much more larger 35.5 percent.
(H/T The Wall Street Journal)
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