Forty-one percent of Massachusetts’ 100 largest public companies have no women on their boards of directors, according to The Boston Club’s latest report, Making a Difference: The 2010 Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers of Massachusetts Public Companies. Fifty-two percent have no women executive officers. Women hold only 11.3 percent of the board seats in the 100 companies listed, the same share as in 2009. There are just 21 more women directors today than when The Boston Club initiated its Census seven years ago.

“There is substantial evidence showing that gender diversity results in better retention of employees and better financial results for investors. It’s difficult to understand why public companies are so resistant to appointing women to leadership positions,” said Janet Cady, President of The Boston Club and President, Children’s Hospital Trust.

JoAnn Cavallaro, chair of The Boston Club’s Corporate Board Committee and Principal, DeCava Consulting, added, “All of us will benefit from diverse leadership at the top of the companies in the forefront of the Commonwealth’s economic growth, and women have demonstrated the compelling benefits to the business when they are seated at the table.  While this may be considered a social imperative, the reality is that it is just plain good business and good governance.”

There was a bright spot in this year’s Census results. A record number of companies – 12 of the 100 included – have three or more women directors. This is double the number of companies that had at least three women directors in 2006-2008 and three more than last year. This improvement shows that companies that see the benefit of gender diversity apply the rule of critical mass to their board appointments.

Among the key findings in the Census:

  • The number and percentage of women in the boardrooms and executive suites of the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts hardly budged over the past year.
    • Women hold only 11.3% of the board seats in these 100 companies.
    • Sixty-four women hold executive officer seats, up from 60 last year. While their share rose from 8.6% to 8.9% this past year, women executive officers have yet to match the baseline figures of 69 and 9.2% in 2003.
  • Only 26 of the 100 companies have a woman among their most highly compensated executives.
  • Only six of the 41 new independent directors In the 91 companies included in the 2009 and 2010 Census are women.

The report is being presented at The Boston Club’s Corporate Salute, an annual event that recognizes the contributions women make in business and in the boardroom. Sheila Baird, Chairman of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), is the keynote speaker. The event is on December 2, 7:45 AM at the Copley Marriott.

About The Boston Club: The Boston Club (www.thebostonclub.com) is one of the leading organizations for executive and professional women in New England. Among its initiatives, The Boston Club measures the progress of women in corporations, places women on corporate and nonprofit boards, celebrates companies that elevate women leaders, and engages in public discourse about the importance of the issues. Copies of The 2010 Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers of Massachusetts Public Companies can be obtained electronically on The Boston Club’s website. For additional information, please call 781-639-8002.

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