In the Nation's Interest

CED Begins Outreach Campaign to Boost Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards

by CED June 01, 2015

Today women occupy only 19% of Fortune 500 corporate board seats, a percentage that has made little improvement over the last decade. At the current rate, it will take 75 years to reach gender parity on corporate boards. Women make up the majority of college graduates and over half of the labor force. CED has found that if U.S. corporations fail to sufficiently integrate women into the workforce, U.S. competitiveness will be hurt by failing to utilize the full potential of the labor pool. A number of prominent companies, individuals and foundations have joined CED’s call to advocate for change.

The economic case is clear; more women on corporate boards:

• Enhances performance and competitiveness
• Conveys to female managers: no “glass ceiling” and opportunity for all
• Aligns with stakeholders, affinity groups and customers
• Aligns with societal norms
• Anticipates and forestalls potentially intrusive regulation
• Responds to institutional stockholders

CED’s latest report, Every Other One: More Women on Corporate Boards, demonstrates that through voluntary action by companies and visionary leadership, we can improve boardroom diversity. CED outlines a proactive plan for direct outreach to the nominating committees of prominent corporate boards, and includes recommendations for expanding the criteria of qualified female board members.

As part of this initiative, CED is organizing individual and small group meetings with members of nominating committees of Fortune 1000 boards with fewer than 20% women. By 2018, women can represent 30 percent of Fortune 500 board seats if a woman fills every other newly open board seat, and there is no loss of current female directors.

CED’s advocates the following steps to improve boardroom diversity:

• Voluntary goal setting and disclosure
• Expanding the criteria for directors
• Expanding that source of women board members
• Supplementing existing programs with direct contacts

This report updates CED’s 2012 report, Fulfilling the Promise: How More Women on Corporate Boards Would Make America and American Companies More Competitive, which urged companies to expand opportunities for women and make it a priority to develop the talents and advance the careers of female staff who have been identified as potential leaders.