Nov 2, 2022 - Economy

Gender representation on S&P 500 boards reach new milestone

Share of first-time S&P 500 directors from underrepresented groups, 2022
Data: SpencerStuart; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Nearly a third of all board directors among S&P 500 companies are women.

Driving the news: Women now represent 32% of all S&P 500 directors — the most ever. That's up from 30% last year, and an 86% increase over the past decade, when the makeup of women on boards was just 17%, a new study from Spencer Stuart, a leadership consulting firm, finds.

  • All S&P 500 boards now have at least one woman director: 98% have two or more; and 81% have three or more.

Why it matters: Boards are playing a bigger role in ensuring more diversity inside businesses — especially for leadership pipelines.

  • "They often encourage the CEO to support the career development of executives from historically underrepresented groups by ensuring they gain exposure to the company’s board and sponsoring up-and-coming leaders for external board opportunities," the study says.

What to watch: Companies have also stepped up adding younger board members as well as directors from other historically underrepresented groups over the past decade. 

  • 22% of all directors are from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups — defined as Black or African American, Asian, Hispanic or Latino, two or more races/ethnicities, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.
  • Among new directors added in 2022, that number jumps to 46%.
  • "Next-gen" directors, aged 50 and younger, account for 18% of new board members in 2022, up from 16% in 2021.

Methodology: The U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index examined the latest proxy statements from 489 companies filed between May 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022.

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