As we reflect on the challenges we faced and opportunities 2021 brings, the Women Business Collaborative (WBC) and Equilar share good news from the private sector: the number of women and diverse women appointed to board of public companies continues to increase. In December 2020, public companies appointed 107 women to Boards of public companies as compared to 175 men. Women comprised 37.8% of overall board appointments. This reflects an upward trend in the 4th quarter of 2020 with women comprising on average 41% of appointees.
The appointments of women of color continues to rise. In December, 28 of the women appointed identified as women of color with women identifying as African American leading the way with 13 seats. Nine of these African American women are first time board members – the pool of women holding board seats of public companies is growing. This is exactly what the WBC and its partners and champions are calling for – parity in leadership positions on all boards.
Edie Fraser, CEO of the WBC, said, “The latest data reflects that more companies are adding women, and the private sector is taking major steps towards true representation coupled with calls from groups such as Nasdaq to include at least one board member of diversity.”
This upward trend demonstrates the attention the private sector is paying to calls for diverse leadership on boards. The call is for boards of public companies to look more like the composition of the population, communities, customers and public.
During 2020 the trend toward parity was positive. Women gained a net of 1,055 seats on board of public companies and replaced 115 seats previously held by men. Overall, women gained 2.3% points of seats going from constituting 19.2% of board seats at the end of 2019 to 12.5% of board seats at the end of 2020.
Directors identifying as people of color comprised 12.5% of all the appointments in 2020. As this information is self-reported, it is important to note that the percentage of people of color appointed to public boards could be higher.
The overall trends across companies shows an increase in both the number of women and people of color appointed to boards of public companies. Equilar and WBC are tracking and analyzing the appointment of directors in terms of numbers, diversity and profile; but also, the companies and industries in which female board members are present and how many of the overall board seats are held by women. The time is now for women to sit across all companies, boards, and sectors. Please, join us in celebrating, tracking, analyzing, and promoting women on boards of public companies.