Women underrepresented at Mass. business groups
Lewis pushing bills mandating women on state, corporate boards
A SURVEY OF THE TOP OFFICIALS and board members at 25 prominent business advocacy organizations in Massachusetts indicates women and people of color are under-represented.
Women make up 51.5 percent of the state’s population, but they account for 28 percent of the business groups’ CEOs, 30 percent of their board members, and 18 percent of their board chairs, according to research compiled by the Eos Foundation and the Boston Business Journal. Overall, 15 of the 25 organizations, or 60 percent, had neither a female CEO or board chair.
People of color make up 28 percent of the state’s population, but they account for 4 percent of CEOs and 12 percent of board chairs at the 25 organizations, according to the survey data. Information on how many board members were people of color was not available.
The Massachusetts Bankers Association had the lowest percentage of female board members – 2 of 20, or 10 percent. The next lowest was the Massachusetts High Technology Council, with five women board members, or 14 percent of the total. Both organizations had male CEOs and board chairs.
MassINC, the publisher of CommonWealth magazine, had 13 female board members, or 42 percent of the total. Its CEO is a woman.
The survey data was released at a breakfast event at the Bastille Restaurant near South Station. Andrea Silber, chair of the Eos Foundation, said she hoped the numbers could be used as a baseline for future improvement. She entited the report “Meet the New Boston, Same as the Old Boston.”
Sen. Jason Lewis of Winchester, who also spoke at the event, said legislation is needed to spur gender parity on state boards and commissions and on the boards of the state’s larger publicly traded companies.
His bill, Senate 1878, would require that each state board and commission have no less than 50 percent female board members by January 1, 2022. A breakdown of 50 of the boards and commissions released at the event indicated 16 of them already exceed the 50 percent threshold, another 17 fall in the 30 to 50 percent range, and the remaining 17 are all below 30 percent. The three lowest in percentage terms were the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (17 percent), the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (9 percent), and the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations (0 percent).Another bill, Senate 1879, would require publicly held domestic or foreign corporations whose principal executive offices are located in Massachusetts to have at least one female director by the end of 2021. By the end of 2023, companies with six or more directors would be required to have three female directors, while those with five or fewer directors would be required to have two female directors.
Lewis said he patterned his corporate board bill after legislation signed into law in California by former governor Jerry Brown.