The recent study by the well-respected women business leadership group The Boston Club, in their Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers in Massachusetts Public Companies exposed “We are frustrated by the large numbers of companies that persist in ignoring the business imperative for a diverse board.”
The diversity quotient is indeed problematic as the Census found that across Massachusetts’ largest 100 public companies, only 12.7% of board directors are women – and this a 1.6 % increase over 2011. More than a third of the top 100 companies still have all male boards. And, interestingly, less than 2% of the 850 director seats in the Census are held by women of color.
So while diversity is championed by many with virtually no opposition, the progress is slow to materialize at the highest levels of corporate governance. Some ponder that the mindset of a “culture of the familiar” permeates people decision-making in the boardroom, where like meets like and relationships have historically been key to nominations and ultimately appointments of new board members. And, since only a select number of openings arise each year on boards, the slow turnover process only exaggerates an already lagging pace of change.