WHER Chat: Women Hold One in Five Corporate Board Seats in America’s Top Companies


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.

The Wall Street Journal reports that women now hold one out of every five seats on the corporate boards of America’s 3,000 largest publicly-traded companies. This increase of women’s representation on corporate boards increased from 15 percent in 2016 to 20 percent this year, according to data from Equilar. 

Data firm Equiliar analyzed corporate boards on the Russell 3000 Index, which measures the performance of the country’s 3,000 largest publicly-traded companies. Women have also made gains on corporate boards in the Fortune 500. Of the 462 leadership positions at major companies that were filled last year, women took 183 of them.  Executive search company Heidrick & Struggles predicts that Fortune 500 boards will have an equal amount of men and women by the year 2023. 

The shift in gender representation on corporate boards is likely connected to California’s SB 826 Women on Corporate Boards bill, which required publicly-traded companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of this year and at least two women directors by the end of 2021. The last company with an all-male board added a woman to their table in July of this year. 

Studies show that having a diverse board can bolster a company’s performance. Racially and gender diverse teams can lead to better business decisions because the team can reexamine facts, process information, be innovative and remain objective more than homogeneous teams can. 

Volume I: Diversity & Inclusion in the 2019 NAWRB Women Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) talks more about the importance of having gender diverse boards and recently introduced legislation meant to address any obstacles to gender inclusion:

“Having a diverse board leads to better business performance according to the PwC’s 2018 Annual Corporate Directors Survey,” states the 2019 NAWRB WHER. “Of the board directors surveyed, 94 percent claimed that have a diverse board brings unique perspectives, 84 percent indicated that such diversity ‘enhances board performance,’ and 91 percent stated that their boards are taking measures to increase diversity.”

While we are seeing more success for women on corporate boards, work still needs to be done for racial minorities. Eighty percent of new Fortune 500 board members were white in 2018, and minority women hold just 6 percent, or 71 total seats, in the nation’s top 100 companies. 

Read the full story here. What are some of the best ways we can improve gender diversity on corporate boards? Share your comments! 

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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