32 percent of all S&P 500 board seats are held by women. Despite the progress in gender diversity, only a handful of companies have 50/50 boards, and even less have women majorities.  

In many respects, the past few years have seen meaningful increases in the number of women on public corporate boards. Several factors have contributed to this rise, including greater advocacy, legislation, pressure from institutional investors, a swath of academic research that attempts to link board diversity with financial performance, and other research that extolls the benefits women bring to the board room.  
In March, right before California’s progressive board laws were struck down, we analyzed the progress that California-based companies have made in appointing women to their boards. At that time, we found that women had secured nearly 100 new board seats, increasing their share of the total positions to nearly one-third (32.5%).
This week, we’re adding to those findings with a few observations on the entire S&P 500:

  • 32 percent of all S&P 500 board seats are currently held by women. That’s up 1.1 percent over the year prior, and up 11 percent since 2016. 
  • The current companies in the S&P 500 had an average of 2.3 women directors in 2016. Today, these same companies have an average of 3.5 women directors. 
  • Every sector of the S&P 500 has made progress, although some more than others. Since 2016, industrials, IT, real estate, and consumer discretionary have added the most women to their boards. Despite the progress, only two sectors – consumer staples and consumer discretionary – have more than one-third of their total board seats held by women.

Despite the progress, only a handful of S&P 500 companies have 50/50 boards, or ones with a majority of women. 

  • Only 14 companies have boards with an equal number of men and women – Accenture, Coca-Cola, Cooper Companies, General Mills, General Motors, Micron, Nielsen Holdings, P&G, Progressive, Ross Stores, Tapestry, Ulta Beauty, Walgreens, and Willis Towers Watson.
  • Only seven companies have boards comprised of more women than men – Organon, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Omnicom Group, Citigroup, Paramount, American Water Works, and Hasbro.  
  • Two of these companies have made significant strides in diversifying their boards. Paramount had two women directors in 2016, but today it has seven. Similarly, ICE only had one woman director in 2016, but today it has six.   

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