Among Standard and Poor’s list of top 500 companies, 29 do not have a single woman on their board of directors or among their highest-paid officers. The 29 companies represent a diverse range of industries. However, it is noteworthy that one-third of the “boys club companies” are in the oil and gas sector, which also has the lowest percentage of female directors, at 9.6%.
Many companies which were excluded from the list only had one woman on their board, which critics say “are often included only as a ‘token gesture of gender diversity.’” Other companies that were excluded include those that had no women on their board of directors but had one or more women as one of their top earning executives. For example, the Philadelphia-based retailer Urban Outfitters was not among the 29 companies listed because “two of the highest-paid executives on the company proxy—Wendy Wurtzburger and Wendy McDevitt—are women.” This is misleading as there are a disproportionate number of men in positions of power in most of the other 471 companies as well.
Indeed, only three of the Fortune 500 companies have a board composed of 40% or more women. These three companies are: Macy’s, Avon, and Estee Lauder. Huffpost Women commented:
[While] it makes sense that women would serve on the boards of cosmetics and retail companies, whose consumers are traditionally female, it doesn’t make much sense that Discovery Communications which owns the Oprah Winfrey Network, has no women on its board, or that Cintas, the largest uniform manufacturer in the U.S., doesn’t either.
Unfortunately, the problem of women’s underrepresentation in companies’ top positions is getting worse. Last year, the number of women on corporate boards dropped from 16.6% to 16%. Some companies in the oil and gas sector, such as Pioneer Natural Resources, cited a lack of qualified female applicants as the reason for the lack of women on their board. However, Terry Savage, who sat on the board of Pennzoil-Quaker State for six years, told Bloomberg Businessweek that “there are women qualified to sit on the boards of oil and gas companies. ‘The fact is that more than half the employees of that hugely industrial corporation were women.’”
The growing problem of a lack of female leadership in top companies is bad for women and the economy in general. Aida Alvarez, a former administrator of the Small Business Administration who now sits on the boards of Wal-Mart and Union Bank, said in Bloomberg Businessweek that “‘It makes no sense not to have diversity on the board’ …The large public company doesn’t exist…that doesn’t have women as end users or investors.”
You can view the list of the 29 companies that do not have women on their board or as at least one of their top five highest earning executives here.