The Lack of Women in the Corporate Boardroom

March 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

This week I attended an event in Nashville celebrating the participation of some great women on corporate boards.  And while it was a very laudable honor and positive event, there were some disturbing statistics shared about gender diversity in corporate America.

A research study released by Cable and the College of Business at Lipscomb University showed only 8.3% of Tennessee corporate board members are women, and only 8.5% of Tennessee executive officers are women.  In fact, there is only one female CEO of a public company headquartered in Tennessee.  She is Amy E. Miles, the first female CEO of a Tennessee public company, named CEO of Regal Entertainment Group.

Now, lest you think that Tennessee is the only laggard in gender diversity, here are some national statistics.  A new report from The Corporate Library, a corporate governance research firm, finds “uneven progress” in increasing female participation in governance.  While some 90% of S&P 500 companies have at least one woman board member, only 60% of the Russell 3000 index have at least one woman director, and in the Russell 2000, “small cap” companies, half have no female director at all.  And among those that do have female representation, the women are a minority, holding few positions of responsibility.

Nationally, women represent more than half of the work force but only 15.7% of executive officers.  Catalyst, the not-for-profit New York-based women’s research organization, notes that at the current rate of growth in the C-suites, it will take 40 years for female corporate officers to match male officers.

And here’s the real news:  Research performed by organizations such as Catalyst and McKinsey & Company find that corporations with greater representation of women in top leadership roles experience better financial performance than their peers.

What are these boards missing?  They are missing the opinion of the persons who represent 70% of all purchasing decisions in the household.  They are missing the perspective of the one group who can give them a more competitive viewpoint in the marketplace.  And they are missing the maturity of women who are already the CEO, CFO, and COO of their own household.






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