Still no progress on gender diversity, Catalyst finds
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Women have made no significant gains in leadership roles in the
workplace in the last year and are no further along the corporate ladder than
they were six years ago, according to the 2011 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors, Executive Officers and Top Earners.
In 2011, women held
14.1 percent of executive officer positions at Fortune 500 companies, compared to 14.4 percent the year
before. Women held only 7.5 percent of executive officer top-earner positions
in 2011, while men accounted for 92.5 percent of top earners. Less than one in
five companies had 25 percent or more women executive officers and more than
one-quarter had none.
Women held 16.1 percent of board seats
in 2011, compared to 15.7 percent in 2010. Less than one-fifth of companies had
25 percent or more women board directors in 2011. About one in 10 had no women
serving on their boards. Women of color still held just 3 percent of corporate
Sustained gender diversity in the
boardroom correlates with better corporate performance—and not by just a
little, according to another recent Catalyst report, The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women's Representation on Boards (2004-2008). The report indicates companies with three or more women board directors in four
of five years outperformed companies with zero women board directors—by 84
percent return on sales, 60 percent return on invested capital and 46 percent
return on equity.
"Companies have much to gain by defying
assumptions and taking action to advance talented women,” said Catalyst
President and CEO Ilene H. Lang. "In light of yet another Catalyst study
demonstrating the powerful correlation between increased women’s leadership and
better business performance, continued obstacles to progress make no sense.”
Prior Catalyst research revealed that advancing women to
leadership positions is good for women and good for business. Companies with
more women in top leadership positions practice more corporate philanthropy and
are likely to have higher quality corporate social responsibility initiatives.
today’s challenging economy, staying competitive in an increasingly global
marketplace requires cultivating fresh perspectives and you don’t get that by
perpetuating an ‘all of the same’ leadership model,” Lang said. "Catalyst
encourages organizations to step up and ensure that talented
employees—regardless of gender—have opportunities to advance and contribute.
It’s the smart thing and the right thing to do.”