ION Reports

Since 2004, ION’s reports have turned the lens on domestic public companies of all sizes, supplementing research provided by Catalyst focused on Fortune 500 Companies. For the second year, we are working in partnership with  MSCI ESG Research to provide the key statistical data for all Russell 3000 companies headquartered in the US.

In our analysis, ION found that only 13% of board seats in the full Russell 3000 are held by women.  Additional data points included:

  • 897 companies have no women on their boards
  • 31 of the companies with no women on their boards are Fortune 500 companies – 3 are Fortune 100 companies
  • 37% of the companies in the R3000 have only 1 woman on their boards (making “one and done” standard operating procedure)

In somewhat better news:

  • 402 companies in the R3000 have boards where women hold 25% or more of the director seats
  • 5 companies have gender parity on their boards (50:50) and 4 are greater than 50% female

Consistent with research that shows that smaller companies lag behind the larger public companies in appointing women to their boards, we analyzed the top 1000 companies in the R3000 and compared the results to the numbers for the bottom two-thirds of the companies in the R3000 (companies 1001 to 2827 – also referred to as the Russell 2000).  The difference is substantial:

  • Women hold 17% of the board seats in the R1000 (companies 1-1000)
  • Women hold only 11% of the board seats in the R2000 (companies 1001-3000)

Download ION’s Annual Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers in the Russell 3000

[ION CENSUS PDF]

MSCI ESG Research products and services are designed to provide in-depth research, ratings and analysis of environmental, social and governance-related business practices to companies worldwide. Ratings and data from MSCI ESG Research are also used in the construction of the MSCI ESG Indexes. MSCI ESG Research Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

A Lesson in Diversity

Companies can be leaders even without the mandate of public officials or prodding by institutional investors. Leading Companies highlighted in previous ION reports offer many lessons:

  • Gender diversity at the top is a business imperative, not just a feel-good initiative: board’s composition must reflect the environment in which the company operates and competes
  • Leading companies that have added multiple women directors have done so not by specifically recruiting women, but by identifying the board’s strategic needs and seeking the best-qualified candidates to fill those gaps
  • Exceptionally well-qualified women can be found. Sometimes it’s just necessary to expand a board search beyond the usual networks, or direct retained search firms to seek out talented women
  • Qualified women directors can be found in every industry and sector of the economy
  • A diverse board results in high-quality discussion and results

Past ION Reports


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The states represented by ION:

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