Media Announcements

2009 Catalyst Census of the Fortune 500 Reveals Women Missing From Critical Business Leadership

Corporate Boards and Top Executive Offices Fail to Mirror Marketplace and Talent Pool

Companies are still lagging in appointing women to board seats and very few women hold Executive Officer positions, according to the 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors and the 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners. “The time is up for ‘give it time.’ Women are approximately 50 percent of the labor pool and influence over 70 percent of household spending in the United States. It’s just smart business to include women in the decision-making process, and companies should implement strategies that set targets and timetables to do so,” said Ilene H. Lang, President & Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst.

This latest research shows women’s share of board positions stagnated:

  • Women held 15.2 percent of board seats, a number that reflects little growth over the past five years.
  • Women of color held 3.1 percent of all board director positions, compared to 3.2 last year.
  • Almost 90 percent of companies had at least one woman director, but less than 20 percent had three or more women serving together.
  • Women’s share of nominating/governance committee chairs is the only board leadership position in which women are keeping pace with their share of overall board seats.
  • Women’s share of board chair positions remained flat at 2.0 percent.

This year, Catalyst examined the Fortune 500 Executive Officer pool, a segment of the Corporate Officer pool used in previous Catalyst Census reports. Women’s representation among this group was unimpressive:

  • Women made up 13.5 percent of Executive Officer positions and 6.3 percent of top earner positions.
  • Almost 30 percent of companies had no women Executive Officers.
  • Less than one-fifth of companies had three or more women Executive Officers.

“It’s not enough to recognize the need to advance women into leadership positions. It’s time to execute on it,” said Ms. Lang. “You cannot be a successful global business leader without women in your leadership. Catalyst research shows that companies with more women in leadership, on average, outperform those with fewer women, and those with three or more women board directors do even better. It’s time businesses take action and leverage the talent that women bring to the workplace. It’s good for women, good for men, and as our research demonstrates, good for business."

Ernst & Young is the sponsor of the 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors and the 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners. Appendices to the reports are available at www.catalyst.org. For media inquiries please contact Serena Fong, at 646-388-7757, [email protected], or Jeff Barth, at 646-388-7725, [email protected].

METHODOLOGY
For 2009, Catalyst gathered public data only from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) annual filings submitted by June 30, 2009. For insurance companies that do not file with the SEC, Catalyst obtained data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) regulatory database of key annual statements submitted by June 30, 2009. Data collected by the SEC and NAIC comply with federal or state requirements governing the content and timing of the filings, resulting in more equivalent comparisons across companies. Individuals included in the 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors report are those listed in SEC filings as serving on the board up to the annual meeting of shareholders and those listed in NAIC filings as Directors. The population of directors was not significantly altered by the methodology change, permitting comparisons to data from previous annual board director Catalyst Census reports.

Individuals included in the 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners report are those listed as Executive Officers in SEC filings and those listed in NAIC filings as Officers. Executive Officers represent a segment of the Corporate Officer population as defined in previous Catalyst Census reports. The population change makes comparisons to data from previous annual Corporate Officer Catalyst Census reports inappropriate.
 

ABOUT CATALYST
Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award.