PWC’s 2018 Annual Corporate Directors Survey found that 84% of directors believe that diversity can enhance board performance and 95% agree that diversity can bring unique perspectives to the boardroom. The number of directors who rated women directors as “very important” has increased to 46%, from 25% in 2012.
Despite this progress, women still only hold 24% of board seats in S&P 500 companies even though they drive 70% to 80% of consumer spending and constitute 47% of the U.S. workforce. The survey also found signs of “diversity fatigue.” 48% of respondents think shareholders are too preoccupied with diversity and 52% believe diversity efforts are motivated by political correctness.
According to the survey, there are five recommended steps to improve the gender diversity of board of directors. These include:
- Reviewing the benefits of gender diversity,
- Having at least three female directors,
- Revising the criteria for hiring directors,
- Requiring a 50-50 slate in board seats and
- Expanding the size of the board to accommodate more women directors. Very few boards implement term limits and the usual mandatory retirement is 72 years old.