Bloomberg Law
Feb. 6, 2023, 11:00 AM

Women’s Gains on S&P 500 Boards Slow, Delaying Parity Progress

Jeff Green
Jeff Green
Bloomberg News

The pace of women gaining seats on S&P 500 boards slowed precipitously last year, signaling the elusive parity with their male counterparts may still be almost a decade away.

The 5% increase for women on S&P 500 boards in 2022 was roughly half as much as the pace of the previous two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At the present rate, parity with men won’t come until 2032, at least two years later than what would have been achieved if the gains hadn’t slowed from the near 8% growth rate of 2020 and 2021.

Women still ended the year at a record 32% of seats and are on pace to exceed one-third of board seats this year for the first time.

The advances for women on boards were spurred by calls for reform after the allegations of harassment and abuse of power by men exposed in the #MeToo movement of 2017. That same year State Street Global Advisors launched the “Fearless Girl” campaign, prompting large institutional investors to vote against directors at companies that lacked women on their boards. That pressure, coupled with a California state law that set quotas for women, pushed gains for several years. The last all-male board in the S&P 500 added a woman in 2021.

As women approached a third of directors, the pace started to slow, suggesting there are currently fewer calls from shareholders to push the number higher. The group 2020 Women on Boards changed its name to 5050 Women on Boards about two years ago after it reached its goal of 20% or more women on the boards of companies in the Russell 3000.

“We may not get to 50% for a while, and there’s no institutional pressure to get to 50%,” said Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, chief executive officer of 5050 Women on Boards. Even if research shows women start to have more sway over decision making when they hold a third of board seats, it’s still not enough, she said.

There are still about 57 companies in the Russell 3000 that don’t yet have a woman on the board and about 460 more with only one female director each, she said, citing 5050 Women on Boards research.

Women held 1,781 of the 5,542 seats on S&P 500 boards last year, a net gain of 81 seats as 123 women were appointed and 42 left their roles, Bloomberg data show. That included a net gain of eight women in December. By comparison, companies appointed 117 men to open seats in 2022 at the same time 194 men vacated positions.

Among members of the S&P 500, women are now at parity or better at 21 companies.

“We are going to continue to keep the foot on the pedal of course, to continue toward 50%,” Berkhemer-Credaire said. “And we think that will happen. We don’t know when, but it will definitely happen because generations are evolving and business attitudes are changing,”

  • On the S&P 500, the percentage of female directorships in December increased to 32.1% from 32%.
    • That compares with 14.6% for companies in Japan’s Nikkei 225 and 17.9% for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, and below the 36% of women on boards of Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 and 38.8% for Europe’s Stoxx 600.
  • In December, nine S&P 500 companies increased the number of women on their boards, including UnitedHealth Group Inc., Intel Corp. and American Express Co.
  • Yum! Brands Inc. was the only company to reduce the number of female directors.
  • Organon & Co. has the highest percentage of women on its board.
  • Charter Communications Inc. has the lowest percentage of women on its board.
  • There are 314 S&P 500 companies above the key threshold of 30% female board membership.
  • The Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index dropped 3.5% in December, compared with the 4.2% decline of the MSCI World Index.

S&P 500 companies with the highest and lowest percentage of female board members:

The analysis is based on data that covers 498 companies in the S&P 500. Historical analysis may be impacted by changes to the index membership, while monthly board changes may be considered effective at month’s end.

The Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index is a modified capitalization-weighted index that tracks the financial performance of those companies committed to supporting gender equality through policy development, representation and transparency.

To see the percentage of women on a company board, click {FA ESGG <GO>}.

To see the percentage of female directors for each of the S&P 500 companies: {SPX Index GX <GO>}. In search box on top right, choose “% Women on Board.” Mouse over to get each company’s results.

To see more on Bloomberg’s ESG fields and sustainable finance solutions, click {BESG <GO>}.

--With assistance from Carly Marasheski and Lauren Pizzimenti.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jeff Green in Southfield, Michigan at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Tim Quinson at

Daniel Taub

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