Catalyst, a non-profit group that studies women in business, reported that the number of Fortune 500 companies with more than one woman on their board increased from 146 in 1994 to 181 this year, a smaller increase than in previous years. The number of women directors also slowed, rising only 3%. Women make up under 11% of Fortune 500’s 6,081 board seats.
Some women on the boards were not surprised. “When there’s one woman on the board, you can easily lapse into less eagerness for the second or third,” said Reatha Clark King, member of four major corporate boards. Sheila Wellington, president of Catalyst, said most of the 81 companies with all-male boards “are not committed to the talents women bring.”
Last year, Catalyst found that every Fortune 500 company that lacked women corporate officers also lacked a woman on the corparate board. “It’s slow bringing people around to recognizing the advantages of broadening the diversity of the board,” said King.