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Equilar Gender Diversity Index Highlights Gains in Female Board Representation

REDWOOD CITY, CA (May 3, 2017) — Gender diversity on public company boards has become a hot-button issue in recent years, as investors and other governance advisors have shined a spotlight on the low representation of women in the boardroom.

The Equilar Gender Diversity Index (GDI) was initiated in 2017 and provides quarterly updates on the prevalence of females on Russell 3000 company boards of directors.

As of March 31, 2017, 15.9% of Russell 3000 board seats were occupied by women. As a result, the Equilar GDI is at 0.32, with 1.0 being equal representation of both male and female directors on public company boards.

read the full report here.

Key Highlights

  • Women accounted for nearly one-quarter of new directorships. 24.3% of directors added to boards in Q1 2017 were female. Out of 614 total board seats filled in that period, 149 went to women.
  • All-male boards are still common. 642 companies, or 22.5% of all Russell 3000 boards, had zero women. However, In Q1 alone, 24 boards that were previously all-male added a female director.
  • A small, but growing, number of boards have eclipsed 40% representation. The number of boards the have reached parity continues to rise: 22 companies in the Russell 3000 had reached gender parity—up from 21 in 2016—while another 46 were between 40% and 50% female representation, an increase from 42 in 2016.


“Institutional investors have long recognized that a diverse board is strongly linked to long term value,” said Susan Angele, Senior Advisor at KPMG’s Board Leadership Center and a member of the Equilar Diversity Network (EDN) Advisory Council. “They are beginning to push harder on boards that in their view have not taken sufficient steps to seek out and recruit qualified female board members.”

“There still is a long way to go, but there is no question that the need for gender diversity has captured boards’ attention,” said Blair Jones, Managing Partner at Semler Brossy Consulting Group and a member of the Equilar Diversity Network Advisory Council. “The trajectory in the Equilar report is encouraging and should influence other companies to follow suit, continuing to increase the percent of women represented on their boards.”

“While females are still vastly underrepresented on boards, it’s encouraging to see this growth,” said Belen Gomez, Senior Director of Research and Board Services at Equilar. “Board refreshment is not an easy process to institutionalize, but we’ve seen positive shareholder engagement and meaningful progress in addressing diversity when programs are put in place to assess and evaluate the board regularly.”

About Equilar GDI

The Equilar GDI reflects changes on corporate boards on an ongoing basis. Most indices that track information about board diversity do so annually or even less frequently, and typically with a smaller sample size, sometimes looking back more than a full year by the time the information is published. While this data is reliable and accurate, given the pace of change in corporate boardrooms, the Equilar GDI aims to capture the influence of the increasing calls for diversity from investors and other stakeholders that is influencing a rapid rate of change.

The Equilar GDI is powered by Equilar BoardEdge, the largest database of board members and director candidates. BoardEdge includes exclusive features such as the connections map, which shows how board members and companies are connected to each other, as well as the Equilar Diversity Network (EDN), a “registry of registries” of board-ready executives from leading ethnic and gender diversity partnerships, organizations, and publications.

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 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.


Dan Marcec
Director, Content & Communications
Equilar, Inc.

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