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Current Representation of Women on Boards
Each year, our strategic partner Catalyst releases a census of Women Board Directors. The 2015 Census is available here. Findings from the most recent census show that women hold only 19.9% of S&P 500 board seats. The 2013 Census, which focused specifically on the U.S. Fortune 500, found that less than one-fifth of companies have 25% or more women directors, and that women of color hold only 3.2% of board seats. There has been no meaningful change in these statistics in recent years. In 2013, 16.9% of surveyed directors were women; in 2012, 16.6%; in 2011, 16.1%; in 2010, 15.7%, and so on. If progress continues at this rate, it will be decades before women have equal representation on boards. The 2013 Census is available here.
Additional research is available via Credit Suisse's The CS Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management, which is available for download here. Credit Suisse's research provides an international perspective, along with breakdowns by industry and sector. For example, the Credit Suisse research found that the 2013 global average of women on corporate boards was only 12.7%.
The Value of Women Directors and Board Diversity
Again and again, research has demonstrated that diverse boards produce better results for shareholders. For example, a 2007 Catalyst study revealed that companies with the most women board directors outperform those with the least by 53%. McKinsey's Women Matter research has reached similar conclusions. A 2014 article written by Deborah L. Rhode and Amanda K. Packel published in the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law provides an overview of studies on this topic, and finds some theoretical and empirical basis for believing that when diversity is well-managed, it can improve decision making.
Additionally, Catalyst research has shown that increasing the representation of women on corporate boards is associated with an increase in expanded executive-level opportunities for women.
The Value of Lawyer-Directors
Research has demonstrated that lawyer-directors add an average of 9.5 percent to a firm's value. A recent study, "Lawyers and Fools: Lawyer-Directors in Public Corporations," examines the valued role attorneys can add as part of a board, and the accompanying recent increase of public company lawyer-directors. Download the article here.
A 2014 study conducted by search firm Russell Reynolds Associates found that only 11% of all directors of Fortune 500 companies hold JDs. Additionally, BarkerGilmore's 2014 survey "GCs in the Boardroom and Beyond" found that, on balance, directors viewed having a General Counsel sit on their board as a net positive. Specific aspects of the GC skill set that directors found useful included risk evaluation and decision making. To request a copy of the survey, click here. And, in 2015, a report from the NYSE and BarkerGilmore found that more than half of company directors believe having a GC serving as an independent director on an outside board adds value to the company. To request a copy of the report, click here.
Additional coverage of this research is available through this article written by DirectWomen Faculty member and BarkerGilmore Managing Partner Bob Barker.