2020 Women on Boards’ 2019 Gender Diversity Index Shows Women Make Historic Progress Toward Gender Balance on Corporate Boards

LOS ANGELES--()--2020 Women on Boards (2020WOB), the preeminent education and research campaign tracking the progress of women on corporate boards in the U.S. over the last ten years, released its annual 2019 Gender Diversity Index (GDI) today showing that while women corporate directors hold a record 20.4% board seats nationally for the first time, 311 companies in the Russell 3000 Index still have no women on their boards.

According to data on the 3000 largest U.S. companies provided by Equilar and analyzed by 2020WOB, 600 women were selected for corporate boards in the first six months of this year.

Nearly two-thirds of corporate boards of all Russell 3000 companies changed their board composition between July 2018 and June 2019, and the majority of boards that added women corporate directors actually increased the total number of directors in order to add these women. Gains for women corporate directors accelerated in 2019, and the number of companies with 20% or more women increased by nearly 10% since last year.

“This growth in gender diverse boards is unprecedented,” remarked Stephanie Sonnabend, co-founder of 2020 Women on Boards. “We interpret this to mean that our educational and advocacy programs are having an extremely positive effect on corporate boards and their succession planning. Thousands of women are learning through our programs how to navigate their own careers toward corporate boards, and it’s working.”

Today’s 2019 GDI report also tracks the representation of women directors by company size, state, and industry sector. Key insights include:

  • Women now hold 20.4% of the board seats of R3000 companies, an increase from 17.7% in 2018. The percentage of women in the 100 largest companies is 27.7%; in the 1,000 smallest companies it is 15.7%.
  • 52 percent of R3000 companies are “Winning ‘W’” companies, with 20% or more of their board seats held by women, up from 43% in 2018. The number of “Zero ‘Z’” companies decreased by 25% from 497 to 311 companies. Despite these improvements, 41% of R3000 companies still have one or no women on their boards.
  • 17 of the 26 states with at least 20 companies exceed the 20% goal in 2019, up from four states in 2018 and one state in 2017.
  • Women now hold more than 20% of the board seats in five of nine industrial sectors, up from two in 2018. The percentage of women-held board seats improved across all sectors.
  • From 2018 to 2019, women gained 811 board seats (net) while men lost 358 board seats (net). Sixty-four percent of companies that added women did so by increasing the size of the board.

The full 2019 Gender Diversity Index report is available at https://2020wob.com/educate2/#ourReport.

On Nov. 21, 2019, the National Conversation on Board Diversity, an annual gathering attended globally by 10,000 men and women to discuss strategies for getting more women on boards will be staged in more than 30 cities by 2020WOB. The full list of participating cities is here: https://2020wob.com/collaborate/


2020 Women on Boards (2020WOB) is a global education and advocacy campaign committed to building public awareness and momentum toward increasing the numbers of women directors on corporate boards. 2020WOB’s “Gender Diversity Directory” is searchable by state, industry, company name, size, and number of women on every individual company board in the Russell 3000. www.2020WOB.com.


Caitlin McShane, 415-225-8855, caitlin@emcstrategies.com


Caitlin McShane, 415-225-8855, caitlin@emcstrategies.com