Alliance for Board Diversity Finds Little Progress Six Years After First Census

Release by Alliance for Board Diversity


WASHINGTON, DC (May 2, 2011)—Collectively, women and minorities lost ground in America’s corporate boardrooms between 2004 and 2010, according to Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards―2010 Alliance for Board Diversity Census. Six years after the first ABD Census, this report shows that white men still overwhelmingly dominate corporate boards with few overall gains for minorities and a significant loss of seats for African-American men. In the Fortune 100, between 2004 and 2010, white men increased their presence, adding 32 corporate board seats, while African-American men lost 42, and women―particularly minority women―did not see an appreciable increase in their share of board seats. In the Fortune 500, which is included in this year’s report as well, the overwhelming majority of seats were held by white men.

The study was compiled by the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), a collaboration of five leading organizations―Catalyst, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP), and The Prout Group, Inc.

“With so many qualified women and minority candidates available for board service, it is staggering to find that no real progress has been made in the past six years to advance minorities and women into the boardroom,” said Ilene H. Lang, Chair of ABD and President and CEO of Catalyst. “Research has shown that diverse teams produce better results. In particular, Catalyst research revealed that more diverse boards, on average, are linked with better financial performance. Corporate America has the opportunity to seize the advantage that a more diverse board can yield in this increasingly competitive global economy.”

Key findings from this report include:

In the Fortune 100, between 2004 and 2010:

  • Men still dominated boardrooms. In 2010 they held 82.0 percent of board seats; in 2004, 83.1 percent.
  • White men have actually increased their share of board seats in corporate America―from 71.2 to 72.9 percent. Minorities and women shared the remainder, with very few seats occupied by Asian Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, or minority women in particular. With the exception of African-American men, who lost seats, the percentages have not changed notably since 2004.
  • More specifically, African-American women held 2.1 percent of seats; Hispanic women held 0.9 percent; Asian Pacific Islander women held 0.5 percent; African-American men held 4.2 percent; Hispanic men held 3.1 percent; and Asian Pacific Islander men held 1.7 percent.
  • Although women gained 16 board seats―7 occupied by minority women―the overall 1.1 percentage point increase over 6 years was not appreciable.

In 2010, the ABD expanded its research to include companies in the Fortune 500.

  • Fortune 500 boards were less diverse than Fortune 100 boards.
  • Men held close to 85 percent of all board seats. White men dominated the board room, holding 77.6 percent of board seats. Minority men held 6.8 percent. White women held 12.7 percent. Minority women held 3.0 percent.
  • More specifically, African-American women held 1.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats; Hispanic women held 0.7 percent; Asian Pacific Islander women held 0.3 percent; African-American men held 2.7 percent; Hispanic men held 2.3 percent; and Asian Pacific Islander men held 1.8 percent.
  • Approximately one-half of Fortune 500 company boards were composed of 20 percent or fewer women and/or minorities.
  • Women and minorities were significantly underrepresented in Fortune 500 board leadership positions. White men held 94.9 percent of board chair positions.
  • There was not a single Latina lead director or board chair.
  • In 2010, 15 companies achieved broad board diversity: each of the major U.S. Census groups was represented in their boardrooms.

For more information on this study and the Alliance for Board Diversity, please, or ABD member websites:


The Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) utilizes a Census methodology. The ABD Census counts Fortune 500 board directors to provide an accurate measurement of the representation and progress of women and minorities in business leadership and to allow for comparable statistics from year to year.

ABD Census analyses are based on companies on the Fortune 500 list published on May 3, 2010. ABD examined Fortune 500 companies because they are recognized and serve as the most influential businesses in the United States, ranked by revenue each year.


Founded in 2004, the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) is a collaboration of four leadership organizations: Catalyst , The Executive Leadership Council, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. The Prout Group, Inc., an executive search firm, is a founding partner of the alliance and serves as advisor and facilitator. The groups have a common goal to enhance shareholder value by promoting inclusion of women and minorities on corporate boards. is committed to presenting diverse points of view. However, the viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at IMD.