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Russell 3000 Surpasses Milestone Marker of 20% Female Representation on Boards

Equilar Announces in Partnership with 22 Equilar Diversity Network Partners Including: 2020 Women on Boards, Women Corporate Directors, Catalyst, Athena Alliance, Women’s Forum of New York and Stanford Women on Boards

REDWOOD CITY, CA (September 11, 2019)—Equilar today announced that according to its Q2 2019 Gender Diversity Index (GDI), which tracks quarterly gender representation on corporate boards in the Russell 3000 index, the percentage of women board members has now surpassed 20%. Achieving this milestone marker is a testament to the many efforts of stakeholders in the governance and corporate communities to drive more action on diversity in corporate boardrooms from the large-cap to the small/micro-cap companies.

As covered in the Wall Street Journal , reaching this milestone within 2.5 years of releasing the first GDI is meaningful progress compared to the rate of change observed at large-cap companies more than a decade ago. “The gap in representation is closing more quickly than we have seen in the past,” said Belen Gomez, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Communications at Equilar. “Staying laser focused on this issue in terms of consistent data reporting has been a critical step in managing progress. It’s essential to take a step back and recognize the collective efforts across the industry to reach this point. However, there is still more work to be done to reach parity.”

The new report also shows the percentage of women who join as first-time public company board members has surpassed 50% three of the past four quarters. “It’s incredibly timely to hit the 20% threshold as we near the end of 2019,” explained Brigid Rosati, Director of Business Development at Georgeson and founding Equilar Diversity Network (EDN) partner. “Now, as we approach 2020, we can continue to measure progress on the diversity front by focusing on women added to boards that previously had no or few women, first time female directors and companies that have added other types of diverse candidates to their board.”

Surpassing 20% and Looking Ahead

The first GDI published in January 2017 illuminated how little progress had been made outside of the largest public companies that had surpassed 20% representation the year prior. At that point, only 15% of board seats in the R3K were held by women. Less than 25% of board vacancies were being filled by women. “It was clear to us where the attention needed to be focused—not just on the large-cap but more broadly across corporate America to truly see meaningful change,” explained Ms. Gomez.

Equilar partnered with 2020 Women on Boards in 2017 to support its mission in reaching 20% women by 2020. 2020 Women on Boards uses Equilar data to support its own index and outreach efforts to campaign for greater representation of women. 2020 Women on Boards CEO Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, who spearheaded the drafting and passage of SB 826, said, “This is the milestone goal 2020WOB has been working toward for years. Through our National Conversation on Board Diversity events, our educational programs and newsletters, 2020WOB has led public awareness of this critical business issue. Board members have to reach beyond their traditional networks to seek qualified women candidates who bring experience their boards don't have. At long last, the pendulum has swung from glacial lack of progress to rapid forward momentum thanks to the consistent and proactive efforts by institutional shareholders, enlightened corporate CEOs and our 2020WOB research and public awareness campaign nationwide."

The momentum shift is profound. The new data show sustained progress on one of the most visible board diversity issues of the past decade. The governance and corporate community will need to tackle next how to broaden the scope of diversity to see meaningful progress for other underrepresented groups.

“The current figure is no small accomplishment. Just a year ago the Equilar Gender Diversity Index for Q1 2018 indicated that the percentage of women directors among the Russell 3000 was 16.9%,” said Susan Angele, Senior Advisor at KPMG’s Board Leadership Center and founding EDN partner. “Among other reasons for the increase, investors are most certainly having an influence. Reflecting back, the level of progress to get this far has been tremendous. There is much to celebrate, but of course there is still a very long way to go.”

Equilar Diversity Network and Gender Diversity Index

Equilar founded the Equilar Diversity Network in 2016 with 14 partner organizations to form a consortium of leading organizations focused on diversity in corporate boardrooms. The Network consolidates member profiles in one exclusive database of highly qualified and diverse board-ready candidates. Today, the Network includes more than 20 partner organizations and 3,800 members and is hosted within the Equilar BoardEdge platform. BoardEdge hosts more than 300,000 profiles that hundreds of leading corporations access to supplement board search processes. Since 2016, more than 200 Network members have joined a public board.

“CalSTRS and CalPERS developed the Diverse Director DataSource (3D) in 2011 to make it easier for companies to find new talent from diverse backgrounds and connected 3D to the Equilar Diversity Network in 2016,” said Investment Officer for Sustainable Investment and Stewardship Strategies Mary Morris. “We are encouraged by the quick progress of companies in the Russell 3000 Index to begin to diversify their boardrooms and will continue to press for more. Improved board composition leads to demonstrated economic value.”

Stewardship Strategies Mary Morris. “We are encouraged by the quick progress of companies in the Russell 3000 Index to begin to diversify their boardrooms and will continue to press for more. Improved board composition leads to demonstrated economic value.”

Concurrently, Equilar became the first organization to track gender representation at all Russell 3000 companies in the fall of 2016 with the first publication released in January 2017. Introducing the GDI across a broader set of public companies highlighted how small- and mid-cap companies lagged behind the progress seen at larger companies.

“Founding the Equilar Diversity Network and releasing the GDI with our partners is one of our proudest moments as an organization. We look forward to doing our part by providing industry-leading data and solutions to the governance community, our corporate clients, and investors to make parity that much more attainable,” said Ms. Gomez.

About Equilar

Equilar is the leading provider of Board Intelligence Solutions. Companies of all sizes rely on Equilar for their most important boardroom decisions, including 70% of the Fortune 500 and institutional investors representing over $20 trillion in assets. Equilar offers data-driven solutions for board recruiting, executive compensation and shareholder engagement that bring together business leaders, institutional investors and advisors to drive exceptional results while ensuring sound corporate governance. The Equilar suite of solutions includes industry-leading board education symposiums, comprehensive custom research services and award-winning thought leadership. Founded in 2000, Equilar is cited regularly by Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other leading media outlets. Visit to learn more.

For more information, contact:

Amit Batish
Content Manager
Equilar, Inc.

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