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Ernst & Young: Women are joining US corporate boards

By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com

New research about women on US corporate boards shows that women are joining boards at a higher rate and that boards that already have at least one female director are most likely to add more. Of the more than 1,800 directorships currently held by women, nearly 40% joined their respective boards in the last five years.

These are welcome trends, as research indicates that companies with more women on their boards outperform those with fewer or no female directors. And yet, to be globally competitive and strengthen board performance and effectiveness, US companies must do a better job of prioritizing board diversity, including putting women in the boardroom. Getting on Board, Women join boards at higher rates, though progress comes slowly , a new report from Ernst & Young LLP, reviews the changes in gender diversity on US corporate boards from 2006 to 2012, looks at the backgrounds and qualifications of female directors and examines the roles women have once they join boards.

Key findings of the report include:

Change has been incremental. Comparing the percentage of board seats filled by women at S&P 1500 companies in 2012 with those from 2006 shows only a three percentage point increase – from 11% to 14% – over six years. While there are fewer companies with no female directors on their boards today than just a few years ago, this change has occurred at a sluggish pace.

Greatest increases in gender diversity occurred among already diverse boards. Companies with women already on their boards were more likely to add another female to the mix: over 30% of companies added at least one female director to their boards since 2006, and, of those, about 60% already had at least one woman serving.

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