SEC chair highlights importance of women in the boardroom

September 19, 2014

Practitioner Insights thumbnail 2(Editor’s Note: This post is an excerpt from an article appearing in Practitioner Insights on WestlawNext)

Faced with increasing shareholder pressure and studies supporting the benefits of gender diversity in the boardroom, more companies are nominating women directors to serve on their boards. Now SEC Chair Mary Jo White has also weighed in on the importance of including women on corporate boards.

Speaking to the SAIS Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom on Sept. 16, White noted that, while progress has been made to include more women directors, companies and shareholders would benefit from even greater diversity. White cited a recent study by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women in business, which found that women occupied just over 16 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies in 2012 and 2013.

That study also showed that in 2013, more than 90 percent of S&P 500 companies had at least one female director, with only a quarter having three or more women on their boards.

Although women have gained representation on corporate boards, their progress in leadership roles has lagged. According to White, just over 3 percent of board chairs were women in 2013 and less than 10 percent of lead directors were women.

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