Women Make Progress, Albeit Slow, At Massachusetts Companies

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After a day at the Massachusetts Conference for Women, it feels appropriate to look at the state of women’s leadership in the Commonwealth. Last week The Boston Club, an organization dedicated to appointing women to corporate boards of directors, released its annual census of Women Directors and Executive Officers of Massachusetts Public Companies. While the report shows some gains for women, a closer look at the data reveals progress is slow.

The Progress:

  • A record number of women (108) hold board seats at the 100 largest companies in Massachusetts. This is a 1.6 percent increase over 2011. In 2003, when the census was started, women held just 74 board seats.
  • The number of companies with no women directors decreased from 50 to 35.
  • Sixty-five of the 100 companies now have one or more women directors – a record for Massachusetts.
  • The number of companies with at least one woman director is at a record high too (65).
  • Six companies that previously had all-male boards in the 2011 census have elected a woman director in the past year.
  • Thirty of the top 100 public companies in Massachusetts have at least one woman among the most highly compensated executives.
  • The number of women executive officers in the top 100 public companies increased as well – to 73 total. Two companies added two women to the executive suites. Another company named its first female executive officer ever.

The Work Ahead:

  • While the number of women executives increased from 2011, there were more women at the top in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
  • Thirty-five of the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts have all-male boards.
  • And almost half (49) of the census companies have no women in their executive suites.
  • Twenty-six companies have no women directors or executives. in either their boardrooms or their executive suites.
  • Less than 2 percent of the 850 director seats in the Census companies are held by women of color.
The Approach:
The good news for Massachusetts is there are plenty of talented women ready to step up. Eight thousand women attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women today, and as one woman tweeted, the Commonwealth’s binders are full.
However, as The Boston Club points out in its report, unless the top 100 public companies fill at least 30 percent of open board seats with women, we won’t make signifcant progress for another ten years. Quotas anyone? Norway, Spain, France, Iceland and the Netherlands have all mandated public companies must fill a percentage of director positions with women.
The Boston Club also points out, “There have been numerous lost opportunities as companies with no women or token women directors chose to fill board vacancies with additional men.” With all of the willing and able women in Massachusetts, and with organizations like The Boston Club and 2020 Women on Boards, a campaign dedicated to increasing the percentage of women on corporate boards to 20 percent by 2020, there’s no good reason the 2013 census shouldn’t show significant gains in diversity at the top of the census companies.


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2 comments for “Women Make Progress, Albeit Slow, At Massachusetts Companies

  1. December 18, 2012 at 7:34 am

    thanks, nice post.

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