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A Seat at the Table

2019 Key Statistics

175 or 18.1% of 965 NJ board seats are held by women

Of 965 board seats in the 100 NJ companies in the Russell 3000, 175, or 18.1%, were held by women, an increase over 2017, when women held only 17% of seats.

58 or 25.7% of 226 available board seats are held by women

Of the available board seats in the 20 NJ Fortune 500 companies within the Russell 3000, 58 of 226, or 25.7%, were filled by women. This is an increase over 2017, when women held 23.6% of board seats in these companies.

Only 16% of the top NJ companies had no women directors

Only 16% of the 100 NJ companies in the Russell 3000 had no women directors. In 2017, this number was 23.2%, and in 2015, it was 25%.

At least one woman director in each NJ Fortune 500 company

Just as in 2017, each of the 20 NJ Fortune 500 companies in the Russell 3000 had at least one woman director.

Why Gender Diversity Matters

Companies with at least one woman director had better share price performance than those companies without women for the last 6 years.

Companies with more women on their boards not only have stronger financial performance but also fewer governance-related issues such as bribery, corruption, shareholder battles, and fraud according to research by State Street Global Advisors, one of the largest investment management firms in the world.

The appointment of women-directors is associated with earlier adoptions of practices such as director training, board evaluations, and director succession planning structures.

Requirements for Change

Companies must be intentional about their commitment to diversity.

Make sure at least one woman is under consideration on every slate. If the pool does not include at least one woman, reopen the search for a candidate.

Board directors should identify senior and mid-level women in their companies who have the potential to serve as board directors.

Once these women are identified, serve as sponsors for them to help them achieve the skills needed for board service.

Companies should consider adopting transparent governance principles like those endorsed by the Investor Stewardship Group.

These principles not only highlight the value of diversity, they are fundamental to good corporate governance.

Look beyond sitting or retired CEOs or those who have already served as board members.

Achieving diversity requires looking in new places for qualified potential board members. Look beyond internal, informal networks for qualified candidates.

Boards should adopt strategies to minimize bias in the selection and evaluation of board candidates.

Research shows that unconscious gender biases may influence evaluations of equally qualified men and women in ways that disadvantage women.

Do not accept the myth of the empty pipeline.

Companies that have been successful in adding women and people of color to their boards have cast a wide net, looking to highly qualified business lines and functional leaders. And once you find those candidates, make sure they have the tools to succeed.

This summary represents only a small fraction of the compelling information and enlightening statistics EWNJ uncovers in our latest Seat at the Table report.