In the first five months of 2018, women accounted for 248, or 31%, of new board directors at the country’s 3,000 biggest publicly traded companies, according to an analysis of corporate filings by ISS Analytics, the data arm of Institutional Shareholder Services. That is the highest percentage in at least a decade, and puts 2018 on track to be a record year for new female board members.
Shareholder pressure, along with the #MeToo movement, is fueling some of the momentum, board recruiters say. “Some [companies] are being dragged forward on this issue, and others are embracing it,” said Julie Hembrock Daum, head of executive-recruitment firm Spencer Stuart’s North American board practice.
Big investors such as State Street Global Advisors and BlackRock Inc. are urging companies to diversify their boards and, in some cases, voting against certain board members at firms with all-male boards.