Gender diversity in Maryland’s boardrooms and C-Suites is progressing slowly. That’s according to an annual report conducted by the Executive Alliance, a women-led organization that focuses on expanding women’s impact and influence in the board room and leadership roles.
For the last 15 years, Executive Alliance has produced reports on the status of women in board rooms and C-suites among the state’s largest employers. While the numbers continue to grow, only half of the publicly traded companies surveyed in 2007 had a woman on their board. The Executive Alliance reports that Maryland still lags behind national averages. In fiscal year 2020 – 2021, the years in which the survey was conducted, the percentage of women-held seats was 22%, while there were only 9% of board seats in Maryland held by women in fiscal year 2007-2008.
Nationally, women hold 30% of the S&P 500 board seats and each of those companies had at least one-woman director, according to the survey. Women held 621 board seats across 72 publicly traded companies headquartered in the state and hold only 23% of the Maryland public company board seats.
At the current rate of growth, the Executive Alliance stated, it would take until the year 2038 to achieve gender equality in the board room. But some Maryland companies are surpassing the averages.
T. Rowe Price, one of the nation’s leading investment firms headquartered in Maryland, received the Executive Alliance’s “Honor Roll” status for their higher-than-average placement of women in the C-Suite and the board room. T. Rowe Price is one of seven publicly traded companies surveyed with four women directors.
“As of September 2022, 32.7% of senior roles are held my women globally at T. Rowe Price and 44.8% of their global associates are women,” said Raymone Jackson, Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion with T. Rowe Price.
“We have our ‘Women in…’ programs for technology, investments, and sales. Women in Sales is the oldest and most established of these programs. They are designed to create a more inclusive experience for women through programs which support current women, and develop a pipeline for top female talent,” Jackson said.
One way that more seats can be occupied by women is by establishing term limits. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a nonprofit that dedicates its faith to help the world’s poorest create lasting change, has established term limits for their board seats.
“CRS is committed to advancing female leadership, creating equitable work environments and career and leadership opportunities for women. CRS has term limits for board members, who serve for a 3-year term that is renewable once, and the Vice Chair of CRS’ Governing Board is currently a woman,” said Kim Pozniak, Communications Director for Catholic Relief Services.
There are currently 25 directors on the Catholic Relief Services Foundation Board and six of them are women. Women hold thirty-eight percent of the executive leadership team roles. The nonprofit also received the Executive Alliance’s “Honor Roll” recognition.
Executive Alliance supports the initiative to establish term limits on boards. Currently, 78% of publicly traded companies in the state have no age or term limits, while nearly 88% of nonprofit boards have term limits. Without term or age limits, once an individual is named to a board position, they will most likely be there until they decide to retire or pass away, Executive Alliance leadership said.
More transparency in the makeup of boards is also imperative. In 2019, the Gender Diversity in the Boardroom bill was passed and signed into law in Maryland, which requires companies to report the number of women on their boards as part of a property tax form that must be filed with the state Department of Assessments and Taxation. While the bill has helped to encourage transparency, not all information provided has been accurate, the Executive Alliance said.
To combat inaccuracies and missing information, Executive Alliance supports Nasdaq’s new listing rules which requires companies to disclose gender, racial and LGBTQ+ statistical information about their boards. The rule also requires companies to address why they do not have at lease one female director and one underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+.
“Executive Alliance supports the Nasdaq rule and feels the State of Maryland needs to require a similar disclosure which should increase awareness for companies that do not have gender diverse boards and cause them to reflect on how they can become gender diverse,” Executive Alliance stated in their report.
Still, Maryland companies and nonprofits are working to create more equitable work environments and leadership opportunities for women.
“Over the past few years, CRS has focused on strengthening the pipeline and staff throughout the organization with the specific aim of preparing women for different leadership positions,” said Pozniak.
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