Increasing the Role of Women in Corporate Boardrooms

In January 2016 Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) unveiled a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which shows women are severely underrepresented on corporate boards, taking up just 16 percent of seats in the boardroom. The study, which Maloney requested in May 2014, shows that even if the rate of women joining corporate boards were doubled, so they were hired at the same rate as men, it would still take at least 40 years (2056) for women to reach parity.

Even if we doubled the rate at which women are hired to corporate boards, we still wouldn’t reach equality until 2056. That means a girl born today will still face the same disparities in the boardroom that her mother and grandmother faced. At a minimum the SEC should update its deeply flawed diversity disclosure requirements, so that corporations have to report gender diversity. The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report for 2015 shows the United States dropped eight places from 20th to 28th, and today’s GAO report provides yet another example of just how large the gap has grown. We lag far behind many other industrialized countries that have taken proactive steps to improve diversity.

In response, Maloney is crafting legislation and urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to update existing diversity disclosure requirements, which do not even require the number of women serving on corporate boards to be reported. In the coming weeks, Maloney will introduce new legislation modeled on policies in Canada and Australia which would instruct the SEC to recommend strategies for increasing women’s representation on corporate boards, and require companies to report their policies to encourage the nomination of women for board seats as well as the proportion of women on their board and in senior executive leadership.

Key Findings of the report:

  • In 2014, women comprised about 16 percent of board seats in the S&P 1500, up from 8 percent in 1997
  • Even if equal proportions of women and men joined boards each year beginning in 2015, it could take more than four decades for women’s representation on boards to be on par with that of men’s.
  • Even if every future board vacancy were filled by a woman, we estimated that it would take until 2024 for women to approach parity with men in the boardroom.
  • GAO identified various factors that may hinder women’s increased representation among board directors. These include boards not prioritizing recruiting diverse candidates; few women in the traditional pipeline to board service—with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or board experience; and low turnover of board seats
  • Most stakeholders interviewed (15 of 19) supported improving Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure requirements on board diversity.
  • The United States lags behind other industrialized nations, including Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom, Germany and Norway, where serious, concerted efforts have been made to address discrimination against women in the board room.

    In the coming weeks, Maloney will propose new legislation modeled on policies in Canada and Australia, which would instruct the SEC to recommend strategies for increasing women’s representation on corporate boards, and require companies to comply with those recommendations or explain why they have not.

    View the full report here.

    View Maloney’s letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission here 

More on Increasing the Role of Women in Corporate Boardrooms

Mar 27, 2017 Press Release

NEW YORK-Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) was joined today by women leaders from across the city to celebrate news that the already iconic statue has been accepted into the Department of Transportation Art program and will remain in place on Wall Street through February 2018. Earlier this month Rep. Maloney sent letters both to Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg requesting that Fearless Girl be accepted into the program.

Mar 18, 2017 Press Release

NEW YORK—Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney was joined by women leaders from across the city to call on New York City to permit the statue to remain permanently in place on Wall Street. Maloney also announced the reintroduction of her Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act to help get more women on corporate boards.

Mar 9, 2016 Press Release

WASHINGTON – The United States Chamber of Commerce today offered its support for a bill to encourage gender diversity on corporate boards of publicly traded companies. The Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act (H.R. 4718) introduced last week by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) would establish a diversity advisory group at the Securities and Exchange Commission made up of representatives of different stakeholders which would study and issue a report on gender diversity among corporate directors.

Feb 8, 2016 Press Release

NEW YORK – Women hold just 16 percent of seats in corporate boardrooms, even though they make up almost half of the nation’s workforce, and the disparity won’t be eliminated until at least 2056, according to a Government Accountability Office report requested by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12).

Jan 21, 2016 In The News

By Patrick Temple-West

01/04/2016 04:05 PM EDT

The SEC should require companies to report more about gender diversity among their board directors amid new evidence that there is still a small number of women serving in these roles, Rep. Carolyn Maloney said today.

Jan 21, 2016 In The News

By Lydia Wheeler - 01/04/16 03:26 PM EST

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wants to force publicly traded companies to disclose the gender, race and ethnicity of their board nominees when soliciting shareholder votes.

In a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Jo White on Monday, Maloney applauded the the agency’s challenge to all Fortune 1000 and S&P 500 companies to set a target of 40 percent women on their corporate boards by 2025.

Jan 21, 2016 In The News

By Rob Tricchinelli | January 4, 2016 7:58PM ET

Corporate Boards

Key Development: Women lag behind men in corporate board representation, according to a new GAO study.

Takeaway: A top House Democrat is pushing a legislative measure that would get the Securities and Exchange Commission involved by requiring companies to report their strategies for recruiting more women into top corporate positions, both on boards and in senior management.

Jan 21, 2016 In The News

The share of women on corporate board seats among hundreds of the country’s biggest corporations has doubled over the last 17 years. But even if the rate of change significantly increased, it will take decades until women reach equality.

Jan 4, 2016 Press Release

NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) today unveiled a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which shows women are severely underrepresented on corporate boards, taking up just 16 percent of seats in the boardroom. The study, which Maloney requested in May 2014, shows that even if the rate of women joining corporate boards were doubled, so they were hired at the same rate as men, it would still take at least 40 years (2056) for women to reach parity.