Appointment of women to Fortune 500 boards hits record high

Dive Brief:

  • Fortune 500 boards appointed a record share of women in 2021 while also seeking out experts to help manage the risks and emerging regulation regarding cyberattacks and business sustainability, according to Heidrick & Struggles. 
  • The boards last year filled 45% of 449 openings with women directors compared with 41% in 2020, while appointing 41% of directorships with ethnically or racially diverse candidates, Heidrick & Struggles said. Meanwhile, the proportion of current or former CFOs tapped to boards fell to 14% from 21% in 2020.
  • “Boards continue to seek fresh thinking as evidenced by the appointment of directors with more diverse backgrounds,” Heidrick & Struggles Vice Chair Bonnie Gwin said.

Dive Insight:

Companies face rising pressure from industry associations, federal regulators, lawmakers and both institutional and retail investors to make diversity of their boards, C-suites and workforce one of their top priorities.

The Business Roundtable, made up of large U.S. companies with 20 million employees and more than $9 trillion in total annual revenue, has committed to increasing diversity and providing metrics on the demographics of corporate boards, senior executives, workforces and suppliers.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler has called workforce a critical asset of growing interest to investors and has asked agency staff to recommend disclosure mandates on specifics such as employee diversity, compensation and turnover.

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