Risk & Compliance

Women Gaining Corporate Board Slots

The percentage of female board members at S&P 1500 companies rose from 11.3% in 2007 to 15% in 2014, says Equilar.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 2, 2015
Women Gaining Corporate Board Slots

More and more women are getting seats on U.S. corporate boards, according to research by Equilar released on Thursday.

The percentage of female board members at S&P 1500 companies rose from 11.3% in 2007 to 15% in 2014, according to Equilar. Female directors are younger on average than their male counterparts, and have shorter tenure, and the difference in age between women and men has remained fairly consistent over the years, the firm found.

In the last eight years, the average percentage of outside directors at these companies has increased. However, there is a larger percentage of outside female directors than outside male directors. Inside male directors outnumber female ones.

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The growth in female directors comes despite a lack of formal guidelines to make boards more diverse. A recent CFO survey found that only a tiny percentage of companies have programs to promote board diversity.

In the same survey, one-third of U.S. respondents cited challenges to adding women to their boards. Among a subset of respondents, the challenges cited most often were: too few available women with desired industry experience (41%), board experience (19%), C-suite experience (17%), and desired skill sets (14%).

According to Equilar data, the companies within the S&P 1500 that had the largest increases in the representation of women on boards from 2007 to 2014 include the following:

S&P 500. Interpublic Group of Companies, 33.3%; Netflix, 28.6%; Proctor & Gamble, 27.4%; Kellogg, 24.6%; and KeyCorp, 23.2%.

S&P 400 MidCap. Henry Jack & Associates, 37.5%; Williams Sonoma, 30%; United Natural Foods, 25.7%; HCC Insurance Holdings, 23.1%; and Deckers Outdoors, 22.2%.

S&P 600 SmallCap. Pinnacle Entertainment, 25%; E.W. Scripps, 23.3%; Sonic, 23.1%; NetGear, 22.2%; and Koppers Holdings, 22.2%.

Of the companies mentioned above, Kellogg, P&G, and KeyCorp had the highest number of women on their boards of directors. Kellogg had six as of year-end 2014 and P&G and KeyCorp five each.