The number of women board directors is inching up, according to a Gender Diversity index update released Friday by 2020 Women on Boards, a national campaign to advance women to corporate boards of directors.
Women hold a record 22.6% of the board seats among the nation's largest publicly traded companies in the Russell 3000 index, up from 20.4% in 2019. That represents a 2.2% increase over one year and 6.5% over four years.
"Companies that understand the business imperatives and benefits of women directors propelled us to this milestone," 2020 Women on Boards co-founder and board chairwoman Stephanie Sonnabend said in a statement.
As women gain board seats in the Fortune 500 at a faster rate in recent years, Black and Asian/Pacific Islander women are gaining the fastest, but women of color still hold the fewest number of board seats.
One-third of Russell 3000 companies still have only one (30%) or no women (5%) on their boards. Of the 902 female seats added this year, 60% were achieved by adding board seats, not replacing male directors.
Of the 26,711 board seats of the 2,982 companies on the 2020 Russell 3000 list, women hold 6,034 seats, with roughly one-fourth added in the past year.
Among the 25 states with more than 20 companies on the Russell 3000, all but Florida and Utah exceeded the organization's 20% goal for women on boards this year, up from 17 states in 2019. States exceeding 20% for the first time were Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
Increasing board diversity "is not about checking off a box," said co-founder Malli Gero, who said that companies need to commit to increasing diverse backgrounds in their workforces, through leadership and the boardroom. "We're pleased to see sustained progress, but we have a long way to go to achieve balanced boards," said Ms. Gero in the statement.
2020 Women on Boards analyzes data provided by Equilar for the Gender Diversity index to compare Russell 3000 corporations by state, industry sector and size. Complete findings will be available later this year.