MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Women inc, a nonprofit organization that works to achieve balanced representation of women on boards of directors to maximize the performance of Wisconsin businesses, today released its 16th annual research report, “Building Momentum.”
The report showed the percentage of women on the boards of Wisconsin’s top 50 public companies reached an all-time high and that the number of companies with more than 3 women on their boards increased 25 percent in 2019. Three is a significant number because studies have shown that companies with 3 or more female directors outperform those with lower representation.
Highlights of the report include:
- The percentage of women holding director seats on the boards of Wisconsin’s 50 largest public companies (WI 50) reached 20.8 percent, a 10 percent increase from 18.9 percent in 2018 and surpassing MWi’s initial goal of 20 percent by 2020.
- 30 percent of the WI 50 have three or more female directors, a 25 percent increase from 2018.
- 21.2 percent of the board seats of Wisconsin S&P 500 companies are held by women, compared to 26.7 percent of all US S&P 500 companies.
“We achieved a significant milestone in 2019, with the percentage of women directors on the boards of the top 50 Wisconsin public companies reaching more than 20 percent. We applaud the directors and company leaders who added women to their boards over the past year. It is impressive that 15 of Wisconsin’s top 50 public companies now demonstrate the ‘Power of 3,’ with three or more women on their board,” said Lindsay Hammerer, partner at KPMG and chair of Milwaukee Women inc. “We are building momentum and hope others will join us in working toward our goal of 25 percent women directors by 2025.”
Other key findings in this year’s report include:
- Women Directors:
- Nearly two-thirds of the WI 50 (32 out of 50) now have two or more female board members, a 23 percent increase from 2018.
- Women Executives:
- The percentage of women executives in the WI 50 increased to 21.1 percent in 2019, from 18.9 percent in 2018.
- 34 percent of the WI 50 have three or more women executives, a 13 percent increase from 2018.
- 19.8 percent of Wisconsin’s S&P 500 companies’ executive positions are held by women, compared to 26.5 percent of all US S&P 500 companies
Of the WI 50, Alliant Energy Corporation continues to top the list with the highest percentage of female directors (50 percent or 5 of its 10 directors). This year, Exact Sciences Corporation topped the list of the WI 50 companies with the most female executives. Twenty-eight percent of the company’s executives (7 out of 25) are women.
“Many CEOs and board members have experienced first-hand the advantages of an inclusive board. They have found that a team with diverse skill sets and perspectives is better able to problem solve than a homogenous team and that respectful debate and challenges lead to better decisions and outcomes. A diverse board represents the company’s values and helps in recruiting employees at all levels. A best practice for CEOs is to not wait until they have an opening on the board, but start to identify and actively connect with good candidates early on. Supporting up-and-coming diverse members of their own leadership team also helps to build a pipeline for future executive and board positions,” added Hammerer.
Milwaukee Women inc has been producing research on board gender diversity of the 50 largest Wisconsin-based public companies since 2003.
About Milwaukee Women inc (MWi)
Milwaukee Women inc is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to achieving balanced representation of women on boards of directors to maximize the performance of Wisconsin businesses. MWi is a catalyst for change through its benchmarking research, education and advocacy, providing resources and programs that can help Wisconsin companies and organizations move the needle even further. MWi is committed to working with business leaders to increase diversity and to making the Greater Milwaukee area a region of choice and an attractive environment in which to do business. More information is available on Milwaukee Women inc’s website: www.milwaukeewomeninc.org.