Report: Women still underrepresented on retail boards

Washington, D.C. -- Women account for 18.4% of directors serving on the boards of the world's largest retail and consumer products companies globally, according to the latest Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) report on Women Board Directors of Top Retail and Consumer Products Companies Globally.

This industry percentage reflects a better record of appointing women to board directorships than the 15% women's representation on the boards of Fortune Global 200 companies. In addition, over a third of companies surveyed have gone beyond tokenism and have three or more women on their boards. However, the numbers are not where they need to be given women's aggregate market impact.

"There is no industry where women play a more dominant role as workers, producers and consumers than the retail and consumer products industry," says CWDI Chair Irene Natividad. "With women making 85% of buying decisions in the U.S. and 65% globally, many more companies now recognize women's buying power and have increased their appointments of women to board seats, but there are still laggards who don't see the business rationale."

The report includes 168 retail/consumer products companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenue from 26 different countries. Among the top 15 best performers with the highest percentage of women directors, U.S. companies dominate, with Avon Products ranking first worldwide with 60% of its Board being female. With at least a third of board seats held by women, other U.S. best performing retail/consumer goods companies include Procter & Gamble, Estee Lauder, Macy's, Williams-Sonoma, TJX Inc., Hormel Foods, PVH Corporation, Campbell Soup, Coach Inc., Foot Locker, General Mills, and Office Depot.

The study found that the percentage of women executive officers in retail/consumer products companies does not equal the percentage of women board directors. Among the companies surveyed, only 12.6% of executive officer positions are held by women, 5.8% lower than the percentage of women board directors in this industry.

In order to increase the number of women in the pipeline for board seats, the report calls for more programs to advance women up the corporate ladder from middle management to C-suite positions.


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