Boards Becoming More Gender-Diverse, but Not Yet Balanced

We look at the progress being made on gender diversity on corporate boards in the US.

Jeremy Glaser 25.03.2019 | 11.28
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Jeremy Glaser: For Morningstar, I'm Jeremy Glaser. There's been increasing interest from both investors and regulators of having more gender diversity on corporate boards. I'm joined today by Madison Sargis. She is an associate director on the quantitative research team here at Morningstar. We are going to look at how much progress is being made here.

Madison, thanks for joining me.

Madison Sargis: Thanks for having me.

Glaser: I want to start by just talking about the growth in representation on corporate boards. What has happened over the last, say, five or 10 years?

Sargis: Gender diversity on corporate boards has definitely been improving. Across the Russell 3000, women hold 16% of all companies' board positions.

Glaser: But that's not necessarily evenly distributed. When you dive under the hood a little bit, what do you see in terms of who is doing better and who is doing worse here?

Sargis: It's definitely dependent on how big the company is. And so, the S&P 500, the S&P 100 definitely has a lot more women on their boards. But, however, as you go down the market cap, that gender diversity that you see starts to go away. Actually, the Russell 3000 is a lot less gender-diverse than the S&P 500.

Glaser: One of the interesting findings of the report is that women tend to serve on more boards than their male counterparts. What do you think is driving that?

Sargis: I think it's an availability pool issue--that there's a lot of attention to get more gender diversity on boards. But when you look at it, there's only so many women who have become senior executives or have been on boards before and these are the types of requirements to be on corporate boards. And so, there's just a smaller pool of women who can fill these seats.

Glaser: If you care about this issue and want to see more women on boards, what would be some of your recommendations to solve that availability issue?

Sargis: There's a couple of different philosophies. One of them is--what the state of California did--was regulate it, and now is requiring in 2019 to have companies headquartered there have quotas for women based on the size of the boards. There's other schools of thought--that thinking that this is due to board tenure and that there's not a ton of turnover of board positions. If we limited board tenure, then that would pave the way for more positions, which would lead to more women on the boards.

Glaser: Madison, I appreciate your thoughts on this paper today.

Sargis: Thank you.

Glaser: For Morningstar, I'm Jeremy Glaser. Thanks for watching.

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Jeremy Glaser  Jeremy Glaser is the Markets Editor for

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