That Old Glass Ceiling? Still There (Alas)


The proverbial glass ceiling is still intact, according to one corporate watchdog — which is a shame for brands. Women and minorities are still underrepresented on US corporate boards according to the recent report, “Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards — 2010 Alliance for Board Diversity Census,” by the Alliance for Board Diversity.

Missing Pieces shows that, six years after the first Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) Census, not much has changed. While research points decisively to the benefits of a diverse boardroom— including enhanced financial performance—white men continue to dominate corporate boards and have, in fact, increased their presence since 2004. Women and minorities are still vastly underrepresented.”[more]

Here’s the breakdown, one decade into the 21st century:

“Six years after the first ABD Census, not much has changed. White men continue to dominate corporate boards and have, in fact, increased their presence since 2004, said Ilene Lang, CEO, of research firm Catalyst and chairman of the alliance.“

Not only does this reflect poorly on efforts to more accurately reflect shareholders, employees and markets – it’s bad for business.

“More diverse boards, on average, are linked with better financial performance,” adds Lang.

In terms of global presence and performance, this trend will hinder U.S leadership in reaching its potential.

The data was culled from all companies in the 2010 Fortune 100 and 491 companies in the Fortune 500 that had complete statistics on race, ethnicity and gender.

Procter & Gamble, IBM, and CitiGroup were exceptions in Fortune 500 companies, including all of the U.S. Census Bureau’s major groups in the boardroom.

Members of the Alliance for Board Diversity include Catalyst, the Executive Leadership Council, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics Inc.

As for the height of that glass ceiling worldwide, the following charts from from Catalyst’s Quick Takes: Percent of Women Board Directors in Select Countries, published December 2010, paint the picture in fuller color:


How’s your company, your brand, doing in creating a truly representative workforce — and board?

[Graphics via]