Current Representation of Women on Boards

Each year, our strategic partner Catalyst releases a census of Women Board Directors. The 2016 Census is available here. Findings from the most recent census show that women hold only 21.2% of S&P 500 board seats. Additionally, the latest census results show that 16.9% of companies in the S&P 500 Index have achieved gender parity on their boards.

Additional research is available via Credit Suisse's The CS Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management, which is available for download here. Credit Suisse's research provides an international perspective, along with breakdowns by industry and sector. For example, the Credit Suisse research found that the 2013 global average of women on corporate boards was only 12.7%.

The Value of Women Directors and Board Diversity

Again and again, research has demonstrated that diverse boards produce better results for shareholders. A 2011 Catalyst study found that companies with sustained high representation of women board directors outperformed those with a sustained low representation of women board directors by a 46% return on equity and an 84% return on sales. Likewise, McKinsey's 2015 survey of hundreds of corporations found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median. 2014 article written by Deborah L. Rhode and Amanda K. Packel published in the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law provides an overview of studies on this topic and finds some theoretical and empirical basis for believing that when diversity is well-managed, it can improve decision making. 

Additionally, Catalyst research has shown that increasing the representation of women on corporate boards is associated with an increase in expanded executive-level opportunities for women. Paul Hastings' recent 2016 Report Card on the United States highlights the most recent research that has been done on women on boards as well as the work that is being done to improve current statistics. 

The Value of Lawyer-Directors

Research has demonstrated that lawyer-directors add an average of 9.5 percent to a firm's value. A recent study, "Lawyers and Fools: Lawyer-Directors in Public Corporations," examines the valued role attorneys can add as part of a board, and the accompanying recent increase of public company lawyer-directors. Download the article here.

A 2014 study conducted by search firm Russell Reynolds Associates found that only 11% of all directors of Fortune 500 companies hold JDs. Additionally, BarkerGilmore's 2014 survey "GCs in the Boardroom and Beyond" found that, on balance, directors viewed having a General Counsel sit on their board as a net positive. Specific aspects of the GC skill set that directors found useful included risk evaluation and decision making. To request a copy of the survey, click here. And, in 2015, a report from the NYSE and BarkerGilmore found that more than half of company directors believe having a GC serving as an independent director on an outside board adds value to the company. To request a copy of the report, click here

Additional coverage of this research is available through this article written by DirectWomen Faculty member and BarkerGilmore Managing Partner Bob Barker.