News and Announcements

Women of Color Remain Severely Underrepresented in US Workforce and on Boards

Catalyst releases new data; convenes Women of Color Summit to forge solutions.

NEW YORK (March 17, 2015)—Catalyst research has long shown that women working in the corporate world often do not have the same advancement and leadership opportunities as men—a situation that is particularly acute for women of color.

Latest data show that women of color make up only 16.5% of the S&P 500 labor force. And as job level increases, the number of women of color decreases drastically—especially at executive and C-suite levels.

On S&P 500 boards, women of color are nearly invisible. 

Click on the image below to view the data.

In addition, new Catalyst research points to a challenging catch-22 for women of color on corporate boards. When nominating women of color, boards look to candidates who already have a record of board service. This poses a significant consequence: reliance on limited networks to fill board seats shrinks the pool of board-eligible women of color to a puddle. 

“We’ll never achieve a truly inclusive workplace as long as women of color continue to face obstacles to leadership,” says Deborah Gillis, President and CEO, Catalyst. “These data suggest that women of color are least likely to benefit from corporate diversity programs. As a call to action we’re hosting the upcoming Catalyst Women of Color Summit, which will gather global experts to provide fresh thinking and spark change for women of color.”

Taking place March 26 and March 27, 2015, the two-day Catalyst Women of Color Summit brings together leading scholars, policy makers, and business leaders, including:

  • Erika James, Dean, Goizueta Business School, Emory University

  • Marilyn Johnson, CEO, International Women’s Forum

  • Robert Livingston, PhD, Professor of Organisational Behaviour & Director of the Centre for Leadership, Ethics, and Diversity (LEAD) at University of Sussex

  • Rowena Ortiz-Walters, PhD, Department Chair & Professor of Management, Quinnipiac University

  • Dino E. Robusto, Executive Vice President, The Chubb Corporation

  • Sharon Sayles-Belton, VP, Government Affairs & Community Relations, Thomson Reuters

  • Ella L.J. Bell Smith, PhD, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth University; Founder & President, Ascent: Leading Women to the Top

  • Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, Chief Diversity Officer & Global Co-Head of Talent Development, Goldman Sachs

Lead Sponsors of the Summit are The Chubb Corporation and PepsiCo Foundation, with Supporting Sponsorship from Campbell Soup Company and Goldman Sachs. Thomson Reuters is hosting the second day.

“The Catalyst Women of Color Summit gives us an exciting opportunity to tap into the best of our collective knowledge and experience to find new solutions that will make meaningful change for women of color—in the workplace and the world,” says Ms. Gillis.  

Interviews available.