Monday, July 12, 2010

Yes! There Is Good News on Women Directors

Most of the surveys on women on boards are pretty punkish — showing incremental, at best, advances by women in securing board seats. Among the key findings in ION's 2010 survey released in March:

• The low number of women directors and executive officers in U.S. public companies has stayed more or less the same, with small variations from year to year.

• In the 14 regions represented by ION's member organizations, women hold between 8% and 18% of the board seats in all the companies included in the research.

• In Fortune 500 companies in ION's 14 regions, women hold between 12% and 19% of all board seats. Nationally, the comparable figures for Fortune 500 companies are 15% (2009 Catalyst Census) and 16% for the S&P 500 (2009 Spencer Stuart Board Index).

The only good news that I ever see are the numbers that we here at Directors & Boards report — and do we have some exceptional numbers that we are just releasing for 2009.

Last year, women represented 39% of all new board appointments! That is up from the previous record high of 25% representation in 2008. And way way up from the more typical 13% when we first started recording board appointments in 1994.

That 39% figure represents 165 women out of 424 board positions filled in 2009 as recorded in the Directors & Boards Directors Roster.

We do an authoritative tracking on a quarterly and annual basis of public company board appointments. I have reviewed the parameters of our Directors Roster reporting here. These are numbers you can take to the bank.

Something big happened in 2009 — women did indeed make a major advance in securing board appointments. We may be the lone voice in the wilderness of board diversity surveys to note that, but it is true and it offers the promise of much stronger advancement by women in the boardroom in the future.

Pictured is Janet Jankura, who was elected to her first corporate board in 2009; she is profiled in the special Governance Year in Review issue of Directors & Boards in a new series called "My First Board," reported by Roster Editor Kelly McCarthy.