Boardroom Doors Still Closed to Female Execs

A new survey finds that nearly four in five women who are C-level executives at public companies have yet to serve on a board.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 2, 2016

The glass ceiling is still looming over U.S. corporate boardrooms, with more than three-quarters of qualified women having yet to serve on a board of directors, according to a new survey.

The research firm Equilar and the U.S. 30% Club found that of the 8,517 women who are C-level corporate officers at 5,000 U.S. public companies, 78.5%, or 6,687, have never sat on a board and only 14%, or 1,191, are currently directors.

By comparison, 17%, or 13,830, of 81,200 male executives are serving on boards.

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“A common reason boards cite [for the] slow movement toward gender diversity is a limited pool of candidates, but these figures expose flaws in the assertion that there are not enough qualified women available for board service,” Equilar said.

As far as specific C-suite job categories, the survey found nearly 80% of the 788 females with public company CEO experience had served on a board, but thousands of other board-ready women have yet to make their first directorship.

Of the 1,815 women who have CFO/financial executive experience, 77.4%, or 1,406, have not yet been a board member and the ratios were similar for female executives with operations (67.7%), technology (81.3%) and marketing (78.6) experience.

Only one company, Navient Corp., has more women than men on its board.

“Equilar’s study indicates too many organizations are still failing to consider thousands of qualified, board-ready women, missing a valuable opportunity to gain from the greater discourse, stronger decision-making process, and better outcomes associated with diverse boards,” Peter Grauer, chairman of the U.S. 30% Club, said in a news release.

The U.S. 30% Club is a group of business leaders who have set a goal of having women in 30% of S&P 500 board seats by the end of 2020.

In a survey of 100 large U.S. companies last year, the law firm Shearman & Sterling found that women filled slightly more than a fifth of the 1,210 board seats in 2015, only slightly higher than in 2013.