Boards Need Women

by Alyce Lomax for The Motley Fool, March 23rd, 2011.

Over the last few decades, women have made great strides toward gender equality in many arenas — but not on corporate boards.

A recent article in The Atlantic, penned by a researcher from GovernanceMetrics International, has shone a fresh spotlight on this long-standing problem. Women hold only 12% of board seats at major U.S. companies. In a pool of 4,000 of the world’s largest corporate entities, 40% lacked even onewoman on their boards. Of those 4,000 companies, just one lonely company boasted a board with a female majority.

The Atlantic focused on 23 companies that have exactly zero women on their boards. Here’s a sample of the more surprising examples:

  • IAC Interactive (Nasdaq: IACI ) , parent of, made the list. Perhaps somebody should match it up with some female directors.
  • Baltimore, Md.’s Under Armour (NYSE: UA ) recently cheered about its efforts to add more female athletes to its customer base, even predicting that one day, women’s apparel will overshadow its male apparel business. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite translated that business interest into a similar interest in including women on its board.
  • Skechers (NYSE: SKX ) has made big money from female consumers through female-focused trends like its Shape-Ups line, but it hasn’t shaped up its boardroom with a dose of gender diversity.
  • Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX ) has admitted that its kids and women’s markets are the strongest part of its business. Apparently, strengthening its board by appointing female directors simply wasn’t part of that agenda.
  • One of my personal favorite stocks, Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN ) , has no women on its board, despite its major female clientele. Heck, almost three-quarters of major retail companies have at least one female director. Get with the program, dudes.
  • Diamonds may be a gal’s best friend, but diamond jewelry purveyor Zale (NYSE: ZLC ) is not, at least with regard to the folks in its boardroom. (continue reading… )



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