Companies Gain Competitive Edge by Electing More Women to Boards: ION Report Offers Action Plan for Boardroom Gender Diversity

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ION Releases Report on Percentage of Women Executive Officers and on Boards of Directors

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The companies we recognize in this report are proof that board gender diversity is a competitive strategy. You could say that it’s remarkable – that women can be superheroes in the boardroom. But the truth is that it’s just good business.

ION published its Ninth Annual Status Report on women directors and executive officers of public companies. Follow the Leaders: It CAN Happen Here profiles 11 corporations that have experienced financial success and made boardroom gender diversity a high-priority business initiative. Highlighted companies include Akamai Technologies, Alliant Energy, Cardinal Health, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store., General Motors, Hormel Foods, H&R Block, HSN, Intuit and Xerox. These featured companies – and their CEOs – demonstrate the following ION assertions:

  • Gender diversity at the boardroom and executive levels is a strategic business imperative
  • Board composition must reflect the environment in which the company operates and competes
  • A board’s strategic needs are best met when directors have the right mix of specific qualifications
  • There is no shortage of qualified women board members
  • Talented women directors are found across all industries and sectors
  • A diverse board often results in better corporate governance and financial performance

Released in conjunction with Catalyst’s census of Fortune 500 corporations, the ION report summarizes data from ION member organizations in 15 major U.S. metropolitan regions. The reports’ simultaneous release demonstrates the opportunity for positive change in companies of all sizes, in all regions, and in all industries as well as each organization’s commitment to gender diversity advocacy through collaboration.

ION President Sarah Meyerrose said, “The companies we recognize in this report are proof that board gender diversity is a competitive strategy that positively impacts fiscal performance. You could say that it’s remarkable – that women can be superheroes in the boardroom. But the truth is that it’s just good business.”

Data included in the ION report covers both Fortune 500 corporations and hundreds of small to mid-size businesses. This data is consistent with findings made by GMI Ratings in its examination of gender diversity on the boards of 2,770 companies in the Russell 3000 Index.[1] Highlights include:[2]

  • The New York City metropolitan area reported the highest overall percentage of women directors in its total research pool of 100 companies: 19 percent (up 1.3 percent from 2011)
  • Among Fortune 500 corporations in 15 regions, Minnesota reported the highest percentage of women directors in its research pool of 16 companies: 21.9 percent (up 2.2 percent [17 companies] from 2011)
  • New York Metro and California had the largest percentages of companies with 30 percent or more women directors: 12 and 11.8 percent, respectively
  • Kansas City reported the highest percentage of companies with no women directors in its total research pool of 34 companies: 50 percent
  • Minnesota also reported the highest overall percentage of women executive officers in its total research pool of 100 companies: 17.4 percent

Meyerrose said, “ION’s research is unique. It goes beyond the Fortune 500 to cover hundreds of smaller companies that play a major role in the national economy. For years, corporate leaders have strategized to find ‘missing puzzle pieces’ that will make their business outshine the rest. The thousands of qualified women ready to take their seat at the table represent those missing pieces. It’s time for corporations to take notice and take action.”

The release of ION and Catalyst’s reports coincides with the 2020 Women on Boards 12/12/12 events scheduled to be held at various locations across the U.S. By collaborating with this and other national women’s organizations such The Thirty Percent Coalition, Vision 2020, Women Corporate Directors, Womentics and more, ION can leverage the combined resources to achieve the goal of gender diverse boards of directors.

About ION
Formed in 2004, ION is a national nonprofit network of 16 regional member organizations across the United States representing more than 10,000 executive-level women from a wide range of disciplines. ION gives its members a national voice to advocate for the advancement of women to positions of power in executive suites and on boards of directors of publicly traded companies.


Media Contacts:
Mar Junge, c3PR: mar[at]c3pr[dot]com, 408-730-8506, mobile 408-219-0101
Vanessa Bradford, c3PR: vanessa[at]c3pr[dot]com, 209-505-3690

[1] Michelle Lamb and Kimberly Gladman, “Variation in Female Board Representation with the United States,” GMI Ratings (July 2012).

[2] Eleven of the 14 ION members that provided data in both 2011 and 2012 report few changes with respect to women in the boardrooms and executive suites of the companies in their regions; and where there has been movement, it has not been uniform in direction. Because three other ION members (Watermark, California, Central Exchange and Inforum) provided data for far fewer companies this year compared to 2011, year-to-year changes in those regions cannot meaningfully be assessed.

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