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By Tom Huddleston, Jr.
A new study shows that one place where gender diversity seems to be flourishing is on the boards of large U.S. companies.
The report from proxy advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), called “Gender Diversity on Boards: a Review of Global Trends,” shows that the number of females among new board nominees at the largest U.S. companies has been steadily climbing in recent years.
In the report, released Thursday, ISS says that in 2014 almost 30% of new board nominees for S&P 500 companies have been women, which is up from just 15% in 2008. For Russell 3000 companies this year, women make up 22% of all new board nominees, which also doubles those companies’ 2008 tally of 11%. The numbers come from ISS QuickScore data, which keeps track of director traits, such as gender and tenure, at 4,100 companies in 25 markets.
The number of sitting directors who are women has not increased at such a rapid rate as the number of nominees, however. On average, women currently make up 18.7% of the boards at S&P 500 companies, which is up from 16.3% in 2011. Still, the increased number of women among the pool of nominees seems to indicate a commitment to improving gender diversity at the top of large U.S. companies, according to the report’s author, Edward Kamonjoh.
While women still make up less than 20 percent of U.S. boards on average, movement toward greater gender parity is evident with the proportion of new nominees that are women nearly doubling over the past seven years at larger firms,” Kamonjoh said in a statement. “Investors’ calls for greater gender diversity appear to be nudging nominating committees to find more women to serve on boards at U.S. firms.”