2008 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500
The 2008 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of the Fortune 500 details the percentage of all directorships held by women; the number of companies with zero, one, two, and three or more women directors; the percentage of committee chair positions held by women; the percentage of all directorships held by women of color and white women; the percentage of women of color directors by race/ethnicity; and the number of companies with zero, one, and two women of color directors. The appendices list companies with 25 percent or more women board directors; companies with no women board directors; and the average number and percentage of women directors by industry, geographic region, and Fortune 500 rank.
In 1993, Catalyst began producing an annual Census to assess the status of women on the boards of the largest companies in the United States. The Census was designed to establish accurate statistics and to institute a benchmarking practice, with the goal of promoting women's advancement and garnering attention for this issue.
- The report details the gender diversity of Fortune 500 companies’ board of directors.
- The sample comprises companies on the Fortune 500 list published May 5, 2008.
- Catalyst gathered data about these companies from public records, including annual reports, proxy statements, and company websites for the period from April 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008.
- The race/ethnicity of women directors was gathered using alternate sources, including previous Catalyst census data, people of color associations’ publications, and biographies. Catalyst emailed contacts at Fortune 500 companies to request the verification of the collected race/ethnicity data. Contacts, which varied by company, included employees in media and investor relations departments. Catalyst also made follow-up phone calls to non-responding companies.
- A company was included in the race/ethnicity data set if the race/ethnicity of each woman board director was identified or there were no women board directors. In all, the sample for the race/ethnicity data is based on 94.2 percent of the Fortune 500 list—405 companies with complete race/ethnicity data for each woman board director and 66 companies with no women board directors.
In 2008, women held 15.2 percent of directorships at Fortune 500 companies; this number was 14.8 percent in 2007. The number of companies with no women board directors increased from 59 in 2007 to 66 in 2008. The number of companies with three or more women board directors increased from 83 in 2007 to 92 in 2008. Women of color held just 3.2 percent of all Fortune 500 directorships while making up slightly more than one-fifth of women directors.
Sponsor: Ernst & Young