S&P 500 Board of Directors Demographics and Wish List

What is the demographic profile of a member of the Board of Directors for a company in the S&P 500?

The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation published a comprehensive Corporate Director Recruitment and Selection Matrix that is a must-read if you want to learn more about how corporate boards work and how members are chosen. Following are some of the highlights.

Board of Director Demographics for S&P 500 in 2012

Using data from the 2012 Spencer Stuart Board Index (which is developed using survey responses from directors at S&P 500 companies—meaning the data isn’t perfect), director demographics for the S&P 500 in 2012 were as follows:

  • Average board size: 10.7 (down from 10.9 in 2002)
  • Number of new independent directors: 291 (down from 401 in 2002)
  • Number of women directorships: 26% (up from 16% in 2002)
  • Number of women CEOs who serve as directors for other companies: 18 (up from 7 in 2002)
  • Number of S&P 500 boards with no women: 9%
  • Average age of directors: 62.6 (up from 60.1 in 2002)
  • Number of boards with a mandatory retirement age: 73% (up from 55% in 2002)
  • Number of boards with a mandatory retirement age of 72 or older: 85% (up from 36% in 2002)

Board of Director Background Wish List

When looking for new directors, S&P 500 companies want people with specific types of backgrounds and experiences. The wish list includes the following:

  • Active CEO/COO: 58%
  • Women: 52%
  • Financial Expertise: 49%
  • Minorities: 49%
  • Industry Expertise: 46%
  • International Expertise: 46%
  • Retired CEO/COO: 35%
  • Regulatory/Government Expertise: 27%
  • Technology Expertise: 26%
  • Risk Expertise: 23%
  • Marketing Expertise: 17%
  • Digital or Social Media: 16%

Are you surprised by the demographic profile and wish list for corporate directors? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.



Susan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Women on Business. She is a 20-year veteran of the marketing field and has authored ten books about marketing, branding, and social media, including the highly popular 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing for Dummies, Blogging All-in-One for Dummies and Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps. Susan’s marketing-related content can be found on Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, and more. Susan is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has worked in corporate marketing roles and through client relationships with AT&T, HSBC, Citibank, Intuit, The New York Times, Cox Communications, and many more large and small companies around the world. Susan also speaks about marketing, branding and social media at events around the world and is frequently interviewed by television, online, radio, and print media organizations about these topics. She holds an MBA in Management and Strategy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing.

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  1. Jim Nico says

    Thank you for this excellent article and yes there were some surprises. I love that directorships and CEO positions for women have risen since 2002 and hope they rise more by percentage until their is gender equality at all levels of business. I am surprised that there are still 9% of boards on the S&P list that have no women. This is alarming considering the other trends and I hope every board realizes the importance of having women as board members ASAP