WHER Chat: 60 Percent of Private Companies Have an All-Male Board


Burgandy Basulto is a Content Writer at NAWRB. She has a bachelor’s degree in both English and Philosophy, and a master’s degree in Philosophy. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves running, kickboxing, watching films, trying new restaurants she finds via Yelp, and experiencing other cultures during her travels.

A study produced in a collaboration between Crunchbase, Him For Her, and Kellogg School of Management on gender diversity in 200 of the most heavily funded U.S.-based private venture-backed companies reveals 60 percent of companies do not have a single woman on their boards and 7 percent of board seats are held by women. The study intends to bring attention to women’s representation in boardrooms of private companies to encourage a concerted effort to hire diverse board members.

Several studies have tracked gender diversity among the boards of U.S. public companies, such as the U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index and the Equilar Gender Diversity Index. However, the representation of women on private company boards has been largely ignored, so this study is unique in shedding light on how private companies fare in achieving gender diversity in their boards. 

While 60 percent of private companies have an all-male board, only 10.8 percent of the boards of Russell 3000 companies and none of the S&P 500 companies have all-male boards. Of the 1,366 board seats across the 200 companies studied, 101 were held by women, or just 7 percent. 

Independent board seats are more likely to be gender diverse. Of all of the board seats held by women, 50 percent were independents, 36 percent were investors, and 14 percent were executive directors. However, only 19 percent of all independent directors were women, and 29 percent of companies had not yet added an independent director when the study was conducted. 

Researchers claim that this study reflects a gender imbalance among founders and funders. For instance, fewer than 3 percent of U.S. companies that received venture capital funding between 2011-2013 were founded by women. In addition, within venture-capital firms, about 10 percent of partners involved in  investment decisions are women.

This gender imbalance carries into the boardroom as executives and investors compose 80 percent of director seats, of which fewer than 5 percent are held by women. Female directors were most likely to hold an independent seat on the board among companies included in their study. 

About 2019 NAWRB WHER

The 2019 NAWRB Women Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) is the third installment of the most diverse coverage of the Housing Ecosystem with over sixty resources in six volumes: Diversity & Inclusion, Homeownership, Women-Owned Businesses, STEM, Aging Population, and Family Offices with a gender lens perspective. Learn more about each of the volumes and order a copy of the 2019 NAWRB WHER at https://www.nawrb.com/womenhousingecosystem/.

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