Women on Boards: Progress??

No, it's not I who am ambivalent...its the data (as reported by WSJ).

WSJ headline yesterday (alerted through Twitter) was "Study: More Women Named to Boards". Being a huge advocate of more women on boards, I quickly read the report which said,

"Are more women moving into corporate boardrooms?

Good News: "At least one study says yes. In the first three months of the year, 38% of new directors – 38 of 101 appointments – were women, according to data compiled by quarterly journal Directors & Boards. That's the highest number and percentage since the publication began counting in 1994.

Women's share of board appointments has been climbing for the past two years and spiked in the most recent quarter, says James Kristie, editor of Directors & Boards. For all of 2007 and 2008, it averaged about 25%; in 2006 it was 18.5%..."

Good news challenged: "Others who follow new-director appointments aren't seeing a surge. Julie Daum, who heads the North American board services practice at executive search firm Spencer Stuart, says about 20% of its director placements in the past quarter were women, up only slightly from 17% to 18% in 2008."

More good news at the end of the article, which, by the way was written by Erin White was, also from Julie Daum:
"Boards are much more thoughtful about how they recruit – there's much more of a process in place where they define what they're looking for," she says. "Which is different from saying, 'We have an opening. Does anybody know who might be good?'"
Glad to see that Kerrii Anderson, who was interim CEO at Wendy's joined the board of Chiquita Brands International. She's one of the CEOs I write about in my new book.

I occasionally correspond with Directors and Boards Editor and Associate Publisher Jim Kristie and he gave me a look at the news release from which Erin's article was written. Information not covered includes this that's worth a look:
“'Thirty-eight percent of new board appointees is an awesome number,” Kristie says. “I have been a champion of board diversity since becoming editor in 1981, and I hope this trend stays as strong as we have seen it in the first quarter.'” He adds that the data so far for April shows a near-even split of male/female board appointments.

From 1994 until 2002, the percentage of women named to boards typically averaged in the low to mid-teens. For that first year, 1994, the total was 13 percent. In 1996 it dipped to 9 percent.

• A consistent uptick to the high teens began in 2002. Kristie speculates that this was an early reaction to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) governance-tightening regulations in July of that year. SOX, he says, created new opportunities for women by stimulating a push for independent directors, as newly defined by the stock exchanges and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and for financial experts on boards.

• From 2003-2006 “the data veered widely,” Kristie says, with some quarters backsliding to the teens while other quarters hit 20-25 percent of board appointments being women.

• 2007 marked “the first solid breakthrough trend,” he says, with every quarter that year above 20 percent for women directors. For the whole year, the average was 25 percent, same as with 2008."

Thanks, Jim, for the good work you're doing to keep this issue on the radar screen. It's important because studies continue to show a correlation between improved performance and higher percentages of women on boards.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Paul said...

The proportion of board members who are women is extremely low (7% of board members are women) and I think it is great that board appointments increase significantly in the future.

Susan Colantuono said...

Paul, thanks for your comment. It is disappointing how small is the percentage of women directors. At Leading Women we work to get more women on corporate boards. http://www.LeadingWomen.biz/wob