From its inception, OnBoard has been a pioneer in its approach to getting more women on corporate boards. The organization was the first to field a study to measure the status of women on corporate boards. Recognizing that hard numbers are more compelling than prose, OnBoard strives to make the case for a problem that needs to be addressed while creating an essential benchmark for measuring progress and proving efficacy.
Guided by the philosophy that “what gets measured gets done”, OnBoard prepared and reported results of the first study in 1993, promoting it as a progress report for Georgia public companies, as well as a yardstick for the work yet to be done. Executive officers for the purposes of the study are only those listed by the companies in their SEC filings, which includes but may not be exclusive to the “Named Executive Officers”.
Developing the Study
1993 | The first study measured the number of women board members and women officers in Georgia’s public companies, determining the percentage of positions held by women. The study also measured the percentage of companies with no women board members or officers.
1999 | OnBoard’s advocacy efforts were significantly amplified by funding that supported the distribution of the study to every public company in Georgia. The study gained visibility (quoted in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle and The Wall Street Journal), and helped grow membership and event attendance, and most importantly, it attracted major sponsors, many of whom have supported OnBoard for over a decade.
2001 | Well ahead of its time, OnBoard added the measurement of board seats held by women of color.
What Gets Measured Gets Done
1993 | Only 1/4 of the 150 Georgia public companies tracked had women directors, accounting for only 4% of all board seats.
1998 | 7% of Executive Officers in Georgia’s top public companies were women.
2001 | A little over half of 1% of board seats were held by women of color.
2013 | After 21 years, the number of women directors directors has doubled, and the percentage of board seats held by women rose to 11.5% – representing great progress, but also illustrating how far there is to go before OnBoard’s work is done. Even as the number of executive officers decreases, the women executive officers reached 10% in 2008 and stay close to that percentage with no significant breakout – 9.8% this year. The share of board seats held by women of color has the furthest to go – yet to exceed 2%.
2016 | Women hold 12.9% (123) of the 952 total board seats in Georgia’s public companies. The Power of 3 or critical mass is considered at least 3 or more women on a company’s board. There is an encouraging emerging trend indicating that companies with critical mass are increasing. In the 2016 study the companies meeting this critical mass definition at the time of the data cutoff are*: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (4), Genuine Parts (4), The Coca-Cola Company (4), Carter’s, EarthLink Holdings, Gray Television, Halyard Health, Haverty Furniture Companies, Primerica, The Home Depot and UPS®. *(Three women unless otherwise noted.) But there is still work to be done. Men hold 87% of the board seats. There are 50 (40%) Georgia public companies that have no women on board. Women of color in Georgia lag the national stats for percentage of board seats.
2020 | Women hold 19.8% (176) of the 889 total board seats in Georgia’s public companies. There are a record 26 Power of 3 companies with least 3 or more women on a company’s board. The fill rate is 28%, which means that 28% of the open board seats were filled by women. This leading indicator is promising for future progress. There are NO all-male boards in the Georgia Top 50 companies by revenue. United Parcel Service is leading the way with 6 women on board followed by The Coca-Cola Company at 5 women. However, Women of Color hold only 3.7% of board seats which is still an area for needed special focus. Also not increasing substantially are the women executive officers, flat at 14.4%, 15.5% and 15.6% for the last three years. With the exception of these two areas, the study years 2018 through 2020 have shown increased progress over prior years. This momentum is encouraging.