10 Dec 2013 09:51am

Progress stalling for women in US companies

Top US companies are lagging behind their international counterparts in promoting women to leadership positions

Despite continued progress in other countries, women held only 16.9% of Fortune 500 corporate board seats in 2013, indicating no significant year-on-year increase for the 8th straight year.

According to the Catalyst 2013 Census of Fortune 500, just 14% of executive officer positions were held by women - the 4th consecutive year of no year-on-year growth.

Women from black and ethnic minorities (BMEs) also fared particularly poorly, holding just 3.2% of all board seats. Of the 500, 10% of companies had no women serving on their boards, while more than 2/3 of companies had no BME women directors. Women held only 8.1% of top earner slots.

“It’s hard to believe that at the end of 2013 we still see more than a few all-male corporate boards and leadership teams,” said Ilene H. Lang, president and CEO, Catalyst.

“Diverse business leadership and governance are correlated with stronger business performance, employee engagement and innovation. Shareholders beware: a company with no women at the top is missing one of the biggest opportunities in the marketplace today.”

Progress is being made in the UK. Earlier this year, the Lord Davies report stated that since work began on this area, when he asked all FTSE 350 companies to set targets for the number of women they expected to have on their boards and executive committees in 2015, the percentage of female board appointments has increased by nearly 50%.

Last month, the European Parliament voted to impose a quota of 40% women non-executive directors on listed companies by 2020 following years of negotiation.

Raymond Doherty


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