Catalyst today released its 2006 Census of Women Corporate Officers, Top Earners, and Directors of the Fortune 500, which reveals the persistent shortage of women in corporate leadership positions. From corporate officers to board directors, women are dramatically underrepresented at the highest levels of business, according to the study. The following is a summary of the study’s findings:
Corporate Officers and Top Earners: At the current rate of change, it could take women 47 years to reach parity with men as corporate officers of Fortune 500 companies.
- DOWN: Catalyst’s study found that women held just 15.6% of Fortune 500 corporate officer positions, down from 16.4% in 2005.
- DOWN: The number of companies with three or more women corporate officers decreased.
- STAGNANT: Women are still more than twice as likely to hold staff positions, whereas men hold roughly an equal percentage of line and staff positions. Line position experience is essential to advancement to the highest levels.
- UP: Women in top-paying positions rose to 6.7% from 6.4% in 2005
Board Directors: At the current rate of change, it could take women 73 years to reach parity with men in the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies.
- STAGNANT: The study found that women held only 14.6% of all Fortune 500 board seats compared to 14.7% in 2005.
- DOWN: Women of color held only 3.1% of director positions in 2006, down from 3.4% in 2005.
- DOWN: The number of companies with one or two women board directors decreased. In addition, more companies had no women board directors at all. ( Of note: A greater number of companies had three or more women board directors.)
- UP: The percentage of women who chair nominating/governance and compensation board committees increased to 14.7% and 10.0% in 2006 from 14.2% and 9.0%, respectively. ( Of note: The number of women who chair audit committees showed a two percentage-point decline, from 10.2% in 2005 to 8.2% in 2006.)
Catalyst, the leading research and advisory organization working to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work, has monitored the progress of women in corporate leadership positions since 1995 and reports on rends in its annual census.
Additional data, including appendices, is available upon request.
Catalyst is the leading research and advisory organization working with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. As an independent, nonprofit membership organization, Catalyst conducts research on all aspects of women’s career advancement and provides strategic and web-based consulting services globally. With the support and confidence of member corporations and firms, Catalyst remains connected to business and its changing needs. In addition, Catalyst honors exemplary business initiatives that promote women’s leadership with the annual Catalyst Award. With offices in New York, San Jose, Toronto, and Zug, Catalyst is consistently ranked No. 1 among U.S. nonprofits focused on women’s issues by The American Institute of Philanthropy.
The Catalyst Census is an annual report that captures the number of women Corporate Officers, Top Earners, and Directors in the Fortune 500 from April 1, 2005 – March 31, 2006. We obtain our information from publicly available documents, including annual reports, 10-Ks, and proxy statements.