The Directors' Institute(tm) Announces Initial Study Findings on U.S. Public Company Boardrooms and Plans for Largest Study Ever of American boardroom

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The Directors' Institute(tm), announced today the initial findings from its' current boardroom study and plans to conduct, in partnership with Villanova University School of Business, the largest survey ever conducted of the American boardroom.

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The Directors’ Institute (tm), a new non-profit membership organization focused on building next generation board leadership for American companies, released initial findings today from a study conducted on public company boards. The organization also announced plans to carry out the largest survey ever conducted of the American boardroom, in partnership with Dr. Kevin Clark, of The Villanova University School of Business. This work builds on work previously conducted by Dr. Clark in the area of strategic management, which was recognized by the Strategic Management Society’s McKinsey and Company Best Paper competition, as well as by the Academy of Management.    

Key initial findings from analyzing greater than 10 years of public company data include:

  • The number of public company board seats has decreased by 19% since 2002, from 68,761 to fewer than 55,780 today;    
  • Those board seats, especially over the 2011-2012 year, were filled largely by directors already serving on another board. 804 of the 2,320 (34.7%) board seats filled in a sample year ending August 2012 were filled by existing directors, well above the annual mean of approximately 15%;
  • Average turnover on boards up until 2012 has remained very low, with nearly 60% of boards not replacing a single director in 2012. In addition, average length of service has increased to nearly nine years, up 27% from 2002;
  • Progress for women in the American boardroom appears almost flat, with females occupying 8.75% of U.S. board seats in 2002 and only 11.44% today, despite the fact that women now comprise 19% of board seats globally and 20% of U.S. executive positions. Some women’s groups, such as 2020 Women on Boards, have an objective to achieve 20% female representation on U.S. boards by the year 2020 - yet at current trend rates, such a percentage would not be attained until 2032;
  • There are harbingers of change in the American public-company boardroom, however, as nearly 40% of S&P 500 directors elected over the last year were first time directors, and nearly two-thirds of public companies indicate they plan to recruit a director over the 2013-2014 timeframe.

A summary of the findings of study work to date may be found at

Ken Schwenke, President and CEO of the Directors’ Institute(tm) , noted that:

"As boards continue to respond to the challenges of doing business in today’s very complex world, the data seem to show that boards are attempting to meet these challenges with a boardroom that is older, less diverse, and seemingly more entrenched than in other parts of the world. There are many great people serving on boards – many of whom we have spoken with in our survey work thus far – but the boardroom’s collective ability to change with the times is viewed as a concern by many of the directors with whom we talked."

In addition to releasing the initial findings noted above, the Directors’ Institute also announced that it has begun work on a study with the largest known sample size of the American public company boardroom to date. With a target sample size of more than 2000 directors, this endeavor is nearly twice the size of the largest known study of U.S. directors. The Directors’ Institute and The Villanova University School of Business plan to jointly release initial findings of the new study in the first half of 2015.

About The Directors’ Institute, Inc.
The Directors’ Institute, Inc. is a non-profit organization focused on helping current “C-suite” and other executives build the requisite network connections and foundational knowledge to serve as the next generation of leadership on public, private, and non-profit boards of American companies. It is the first membership organization focused on that next generation, unlike current organizations which require that members already serve as a director. The Directors’ Institute serves an audience of nearly 3.5 million current senior executives, and conducts Directors’ SymposiaTM events in cities throughout the U.S. to help prepare its members for board service.

Further information may be attained at or by calling 610-252-7246.

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Chris Grimmig

Ken Schwenke
since: 11/2013
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