Despite all of the attention that the lack of diversity on S&P 500 boards has been getting in recent years, there is still a significant gender gap, and that gap is closing extremely slowly. At the current rate, it will take years to get close to gender parity on S&P 500 boards according to new data released by CGLytics, a corproate governance company.
According to the report, women represented just 24% of seats on S&P 500 boards in 2018. That was up from 2017 numbers but only by 1%.
With that tiny increase, the average number of women on S&P 500 boards rose from just two in 2017 to three in 2018. Keep in mind, the average board size in 2018 was 11 members.
Suffice it to say, these numbers are very disappointing.
However, there is a bit more to the story. In 2018, women made up 33% of all new board appointments, which is up from 25% in 2017. Furthermore, of the companies that did not have at least one woman on their boards in 2017, all but one of them added a female director in 2018.
Industries that saw growth in the number of women on boards in 2018 included:
- Financial Services: 2% increase
- Industrials: 1% increase
- Utilities: 1% increase
- Consumer Discretionary: 1% increase
- Energy: 1% increase
Unfortunately, even the “best” data from the report is disappointing.
Boardroom and executive diversity isn’t a new topic. This conversation has been going on for years, so it’s actually shocking to see a small 1% increase in 2018. While it appears some companies are trying to meet the demands of investors, the media, and the public, gender equality certainly doesn’t seem to be a priority.
It’s not surprising that more women are starting their own businesses and pursuing careers as freelancers and startup founders. And this shift isn’t just happening in the United States. It’s happening in other countries too.
A new report from Digital Risks, a London-based insurtech company, shows that while women founded 19.4% of startups in the U.K. between 2000 and 2018, they received just 12.8% of startup funding. In fact, men received 45% more startup funding than women.
Despite the challenges women face, the number of startups being founded by women in the U.K. continues to rise. In 2009, Digital Risks reports that only nine successful startups were founded by women. Fast forward to 2015, and 96 successful startups were founded by women. That’s a 967% increase in just six years.
What do you think about this new data and the ongoing lack of women on corporate boards? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the gender gap in boardrooms and the increasing numbers of women who are leaving Corporate America to become entrepreneurs.