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Catalyst 2013 Census of Fortune 500: Still No Progress After Years of No Progress

Yet some companies prove “the new normal” is women in top leadership

NEW YORK (December 10, 2013)—While companies based in other countries move ahead with plans to advance women to top leadership, progress in the F500 remains flat, according to the 2013 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors and the 2013 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners.

Among the findings:

  • Women held only 16.9% of corporate board seats in 2013, indicating no significant year-over-year uptick for the 8th straight year. And only 14.6% of Executive Officer positions were held by women—the 4th consecutive year of no year-over-year growth. 

  • Women of color continued to fare particularly poorly, holding just 3.2% of all board seats.

  • 10% of companies had no women serving on their boards; more than 2/3 of companies had no women of color directors.

  • Women held only 8.1% of top earner slots—again no change from prior year.

  • Read more.

Catalyst’s research and insights reveal a strong business and financial case for advancing women to leadership.

“It’s hard to believe that at the end of 2013 we still see more than a few all-male corporate boards and leadership teams.” said Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO, Catalyst. “Diverse business leadership and governance are correlated with stronger business performance, employee engagement, and innovation. Shareholders beware: a company with no women at the top is missing one of the biggest opportunities in the marketplace today.”

For some major US companies, advancing women to leadership is “business as usual”—a critical and achievable goal.  

“Attracting the best talent is still the most important factor in business success and is every leader’s number one priority,” said Thomas Falk, Chairman & CEO, Kimberly-Clark Corporation. “Companies that have improved their representation of women are attractive employers to all the talent available. For those that have not improved, you have to wonder how long they can be successful if they are only hiring from half of the talent available. This issue is not about equity or fairness, it’s about winning.”

“Catalyst’s 2013 Census showing the continued shortage of women in America’s C-suites, Boards of Directors and as top earners is a call to action,” said Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications. “I encourage corporate procurement leaders to require vendors to include their record of hiring and promoting women and the number of women board members as part of their bids. Logic, fairness and hope have not done the job, but doing business with companies that champion women can set a standard and have an impact.”

To help companies diversify their boards with board-qualified women, Catalyst connects its corporate members with CEO-sponsored women through its Catalyst Corporate Board Resource (CCBR). “We know this is not a supply problem,” added Ms. Lang. “There are plenty of qualified women ready for board and top executive positions, as some companies have proven. It’s important and it’s not hard. It’s the “new normal” in business leadership.” 

Additional relevant resources:

AT&T, Bloomberg, BMO Financial Group, Cardinal Health, Inc., Chevron Corporation, Credit Suisse, Dell Inc., Deloitte LLP, Desjardins Group, Deutsche Bank AG, EY, General Motors Company, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, KeyBank, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, McDonald’s Corporation, PPL Corporation, Sodexo, State Street Corporation, UPS.

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, and Australia, and more than 600 members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women's advancement with the Catalyst Award.