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Women and minorities gain little ground in boardroom

Wednesday, May 11, 2011  
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Women and minorities are severely underrepresented in America’s corporate boardrooms, according to "Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards -- 2010 Alliance for Board Diversity Census.”

In Fortune 100 companies between 2004 and 2010, white men lost four board seats, slightly decreasing their share of seats from 71.2 percent to 69.9 percent. Minorities and women shared the remainder, with very few seats occupied by Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander or minority women.

Among minority men, Asian Pacific Islander men gained 12 seats; African-American men lost five seats and Hispanic men lost three seats. White women gained 11 seats; Asian Pacific Islander women and Hispanic women each gained three seats. African-American women lost one seat.

While women gained 16 Fortune 100 board seats -- five occupied by minority women -- the 1.1 percentage point increase over six years was not appreciable, the study found.

The Alliance for Board Diversity is a collaboration of Catalyst, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics Inc. (LEAP) and The Prout Group Inc.

"With so many qualified women and minority candidates available for board service, it is staggering to find that no real progress has been made in the past six years to advance minorities and women into the boardroom,” said Ilene H. Lang, chair of ABD and president and CEO of Catalyst. "Research has shown that diverse teams produce better results. In particular, Catalyst research revealed that more diverse boards, on average, are linked with better financial performance. Corporate America has the opportunity to seize the advantage that a more diverse board can yield in this increasingly competitive global economy.”

Fortune 500 boards were less diverse than Fortune 100 boards. Last year, men held close to 85 percent of all board seats. White men dominated the board room, holding 74.5 percent of board seats. Minority men held 9.9 percent. White women held 12.7 percent. Minority women held 3 percent. 

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