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This report studies the relationship between the percentage of women board directors that a Fortune 500 company had in 2001 and the percentage of women corporate officers the same company had in 2006, and it shows that the number of women on a company’s board of directors impacts the future of women in its senior leadership. This is significant because earlier Catalyst findings show that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors and women corporate officers, on average, achieve higher financial performance than those with the lowest. The numbers tell the story—a gender-diverse board promotes continued success for women and for business.
Our results showed a clear and positive correlation between the percentage of women board directors in the past and the percentage of women corporate officers in the future. This finding holds for three different measures:
- The percentage of women on a company’s board.
- Company quartile when ranked by percentage of women board directors.
- The number of women on a company’s board.
In addition, women board directors appear to have a greater effect on increasing the percentage of line positions held by women than they do on staff positions held by women. Put simply, women board directors are a predictor of women corporate officers.