GMI Ratings Releases Research Findings on Gender Diversity on U.S. Boards of Directors

New York – July 31, 2012 – GMI Ratings, the leading provider of research on environmental, social, governance and accounting-related risks affecting the performance of public companies, released today its third study this year of gender diversity on corporate boards of directors.  The current study provides a comprehensive quantitative state-by-state analysis of gender diversity on the boards of Russell 3000 companies headquartered in the 50 U.S. states.
Key Findings

  • Country-wide: 36% of companies have no women on their boards of directors.  While the average corporate board has 8.8 members, only 8% of corporate boards have three or more women.
  • Regional:  The  Midwest  region leads  the nation in boardroom gender diversity.   The Northeast ranks second across all measures. The West and South regions lag somewhat, and the Mountain region ranks last on all measures.
  • State Rankings:  Among states  with more than 50 companies,   Texas has  the highest percentage of companies (52%) with no women on corporate boards, compared with 15% for Minnesota. Connecticut  has the highest  percentage  of boards (15%) with three or more women.
  • Industries:  Energy companies  have the highest  percentage  of boards with no women (61%).    By  contrast,  among industries  with more than 100 companies  represented, Consumer Staples companies have the highest percentage of boards (20%) with three or more women.
  • Earlier Findings: In March 2012, GMI Ratings published the Women on Boards Survey, which analyzed gender diversity on the boards of directors of S&P 1500 companies.  The survey found that an average of 12.6% of board members at these  companies were women. Based on this statistic, the U.S. ranks 11th in boardroom gender diversity out of 45 countries.

Michelle Lamb, the lead author of the current study,  noted: “Gender  diversity  often sparks deeply politicized  rhetoric that misses  the practical significance of the issue  – namely, its  impact on the performance of corporate boards.  Multiple academic studies have concluded that diverse corporate boards  exercise more diligent oversight.   They  have better attendance  records than homogenous boards,  and they invest  more effort  in auditing when the complexity of the business  warrants heightened scrutiny.   Diverse boards also have more rigorous and multifaceted discussions, avoiding groupthink. As the continuing woes of companies  as varied  as Chesapeake, Facebook, and JP Morgan demonstrate,  many firms  would benefit from more conscientious  board leadership.     As a result, institutional investors are increasingly pressing on many fronts to improve board diversity, including the representation of women.”

Kimberly Gladman, who co-authored the study, added: “The study confirms that the representation of women on U.S. boards remains low.  But we caution readers not to assume that these statistics only reflect the impact of cultural attitudes or biased approaches to recruiting. For example, the regional variations detailed in the findings are almost entirely explained by the concentration of male-dominated industries in various regions.  The representation of women on the boards of technology companies lags the national average. Despite a few high-profile women like Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Silicon Valley is mostly  a man’s  world when it  comes  to  the boardroom. Similarly,  energy companies  negatively impacted the numbers for the Mountain and Southern regions, where oil and gas companies  play a major role. On the other hand, consumer products companies, which tend to have more women than average, accounted for the Midwest’s outperformance.”

Earlier   this   month,  GMI  Ratings   announced the  launch of  the  Diverse  Director DataSource (, a database of diverse director candidates commissioned by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).    The  database  is  designed  to help companies  and recruiting firms  identify and recruit candidates sometimes overlooked under traditional search processes.

About GMI Ratings

GMI Ratings is an independent provider of research and ratings on environmental, social, governance and accounting-related risks affecting the performance of public companies. The firm’s ESG ratings for nearly 5,500 companies worldwide incorporate 120 ESG  KeyMetrics™  to help investors  assess  the sustainable  investment  value of corporations.   The firm also provides  Accounting  and Governance Ratings (AGR®) for approximately 18,000 public companies worldwide. AGR metrics reflect the accuracy and reliability of a company’s financial reporting. Clients of GMI Ratings include leading institutional investors, banks, insurers, auditors, regulators and corporations seeking to incorporate accounting and ESG  factors  into risk assessment  and decision-making. A signatory  to the Principles for Responsible Investment  (PRI),  GMI  Ratings  was  formed in  2010 through the  merger of  GovernanceMetrics International, The  Corporate  Library  and Audit Integrity.   In the 2012 Independent Research  in Responsible Investment (IRRI) Survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Extel and, GMI Ratings  was named “The  Best  Independent  Corporate  Governance  Research Provider”.    For  more information please visit

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