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Creating Boardroom Gender Diversity: Research and Resources

In October of 2019, advocacy group 2020 Women on Boards reached an important milestone. In their yearly Gender Diversity Index (GDI), they reported that women filled 20.4% of corporate board of directors seats within the Russell 3000 Index. These companies, among the largest and most influential in the stock market, are moving towards gender balance in their boardrooms. As of June 30, 2020, the percentage of women has risen to 22.6%. The progress is monumental, but the 2019 GDI shows that there are still plenty of concerns regarding boardroom gender diversity.

Areas to Improve

  • 311 of the R3000 companies have no women on their boards
  • Larger companies tend to employ more women than smaller companies
    • The 1,000 smallest R3000 companies only averaged about 15.7% women in their boardrooms
  • The majority of R3000 companies (52%) have at least 20% of seats held by women — but 41% have only one or no women at all
  • Only five of nine industries hit the 20% benchmark
    • At or above 20%: conglomerates, consumer goods, industrial goods, services, utilities
    • Below 20%: basic materials, financial, healthcare, technology

Major Takeaways

As the GDI highlights, smaller companies tend to struggle with achieving gender balance in their boardrooms. There isn’t a definitive explanation, but the study suggests that larger companies have more resources to search for diverse members (while also facing more pressure from the public and investors).

Whether you’re a smaller company hoping to diversify your boardroom or an aspiring boardroom member, we’ve compiled some resources for general education, training, and member recruitment.

Learn more about boardroom gender diversity

Prepare to be a board member

Placing and recruiting members

About the author

Laura Grant

Laura Grant is a recent graduate of Western New England University with a bachelor's degree in English Literature. She spent her undergraduate term developing her writing and communication skills through internships, tutoring, and student media involvement. Her goal is to publish a novel one day.

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