Women in Technology's The Leadership Foundry Annual Study on Women Serving on Corporate Boards Shows DC Region Lags Behind Nation

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Even with 1% increase in the number of women serving on local boards since last year, region is 6 percent behind national average.

Women in Technology (WIT), the premier organization contributing to the success of professional women in the technology community in the Washington, D.C. area, today announced the results of WIT’s The Leadership Forum annual research report examining the representation of women on corporate boards. The results, which show that the meager 1% increase in the number of women serving on DC region corporate boards, DC, VA, and MD as a region lag far behind the national average. The research was release at WIT’s The Leadership Foundry annual luncheon.

The report “2015 Women Board Directors in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.,” was conducted by American University’s Kogod School of Business, and provides in-depth analysis of women board members from 211 publicly traded companies headquartered in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The findings showcase a slow uptick in women serving on corporate boards, growing from 11.8 percent in 2014 to 12.8 percent in 2015, but few companies achieved the “critical mass” (three or more women on the board) inclusion that would allow them to truly benefit from board member diversity. Studies have consistently shown that having women on corporate boards is a smart business decision, with organizations seeing higher return on equity, higher price/book value and higher payout ratio.

Specific results of the 2015 research include:

  • 12.8 percent (251) of the 1,958 corporate board seats in the Washington, D.C. area are held by women, compared to a Fortune 1000 average of just over 19 percent.
  • Only 12 percent (25) of the 211 public companies have reached a critical mass (3 or more) women serving on their board. This number is rising, up from 7.5% in 2014.
  • Adding women to board seats in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. is slowly trending in the right direction, with 31% of MD/VA/DC public companies (66 out of 211) still without any female representation, down from 37% in 2012.

“With research clearly showing a positive correlation between women serving on corporate boards and the financial performance of the corporations, public companies in the DC region should be proactively seeking qualified women to join their ranks,” said Julie Bloecher, Chair of WIT’s The Leadership Foundry, which concentrates on identifying and training women for corporate board opportunities. “Since the Washington region is known to be a magnet for highly trained, educated and paid women, it’s time we also lead the way in setting an example for the impact that the region’s women can have on our public companies. To that end, this year’s research shows we have a long way to go.”

The research was conducted by research assistants, Iryna Casteel, MA/MBA 2016 and Tong Liu, MSA 2016, at American University’s Kogod School of Business under the guidance of faculty research sponsor Jill Klein and WIT project director Lori DeLorenzo. All companies included in this report are listed on the major stock exchanges (NYSE and NASDAQ).

“The research reveals significant opportunity for women seeking board positions in the small to mid-sized firms,” said Jill Klein, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives at the Kogod School of Business at American University. “Over 75% of total public company board seats reside in these firms and based on research in the European market, we know that women find their first board seat in these firms.”

Klein continued, “From information technology executives to cybersecurity to finance specialists, women bring subject matter expertise coupled with different lens for assessing risk and opportunity.”

Since WIT began collaborating with Kogod School of Business in 2010, it has consistently focused on increasing the number of women serving on corporate boards in the Washington, D.C. region. As part of this mission, WIT created The Leadership Foundry to prepare women leaders to serve on corporate boards. Through The Leadership Foundry, senior women executives have the opportunity to be a part of a program that provides intensive board training sessions, access to the knowledge of a steering committee of industry leaders with extensive board experience as well as educational and networking events.

Click HERE for a copy of the 2015 report and for more information about The Leadership Foundry.

About Women in Technology
Women in Technology (WIT) is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of advancing women in technology—from the classroom to the boardroom—by providing advocacy, leadership development, networking, mentoring and technology education. With nearly 1000 members in the Washington, D.C. area, WIT strives to meet its vision of being the premier organization empowering women to be architects of change in the technology industry. For more information, please visit, http://www.womenintechnology.org or connect with us via: Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter (@WITWomen).

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Reggie M. Kouba
Women in Technlogy
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