For all the women business leaders out there, we have some good news for you. You will get equal representation on executive boards -- you only have to wait 38 years. And by that time, the more than a century that has to elapse before we close the gender equity gap should just fly by.
Recently, Equilar, a research firm that focuses on board recruitment, put together a Gender Diversity Index and predicts that the board of directors on the Russell 3000 list -- the 3000 largest companies based in the United States -- will achieve parity, with a membership made up of 50 percent women and 50 percent men, by the fourth quarter of 2055.
So, if four decades seems like a long time to wait to reach parity, you’re right, but it isn’t even the most dispiriting number out there. The World Economic Forum in the fall of 2016 released its annual Global Gender Gap Report, which found that the pay gap between men and women would not be closed until 2186 -- 170 years from now.
For a basis of comparison, 170 years ago, the U.S. Postal Service was issuing its first postage stamps and Thomas Edison was an infant, 32 years away from the invention of the incandescent light bulb. And for those of you keeping score at home, women got the the right to vote 97 years ago.
Equilar has found that there has been incremental, positive progress made over the past several years. The study found that at the end of 2016, women accounted for 15.1 percent of board seats, up from 13.9 percent in 2015, and 13.2 percent in 2014.
At the end of 2016, 738 companies -- roughly 25 percent of the list -- had no women on their boards of directors. But this year saw 580 women directors brought on to Russell 3000 boards -- 21.4 percent of all new directors, up from from 398 in 2014.
Going into 2017, 21 on the list had total gender parity, and 42 company boards had between 40 percent and 50 percent women. The top three companies that had the most female representation were Tootsie Roll Industries at 75 percent (three women of four directors), Connecticut Water Service, Inc., at 62.5 percent (five women of eight directors) and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (four women of seven directors).