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Diversity on the board

Among the top ten Fortune 500 companies, women are still underrepresented on corporate boards

The reasons behind the gender ratio within the workplace is still a subject of much debate. Each year Fortune puts together an annual list of the 500 largest companies in the US, and despite a lot of improvement at board level, each year boardroom representation is still uneven.

The list is put together using the most recent figures for revenue. Among the top ten Fortune 500 companies, women are still underrepresented on corporate boards. After years of an increase, the number fell to 21 from 24 last year, according to Fortune. In fact, at the top there are very few women. Mary Barra is the only women running one of the USA’s ten biggest companies, General Motors. However the number of women CEOs has climbed in the last twenty years, when at the time, the US had no female CEOs at all.

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There are various arguments as to why less women hold positions in the highest levels of corporate power. Some say it’s a moral issue, while others stress that the low number of females CEOs in the fortune 500 may be due to gendered stereotypes that fill the workplace.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Exxon mobil state that approximately 17% of executive employees worldwide are women, which is an increase of 55% over the past decade, and Walmart say the percentage of women officers throughout the corporation today doubles that of the average Fortune 500 company. During Walmart’s ten year journey, they increased their women officer representation a full 16 percentage points while the Fortune 500 average declined a percentage point.

Although more and more companies are portraying stronger values when it comes to their diversity policies, it’s still an ongoing issue among other companies. Fortune reports that there are now more Fortune 500 companies with all male boards compared to 2015 and 24 of Fortune 500 companies still have zero female directors. What’s needed is the commitment of every company to engage seriously in the recruitment of women to change the overall disproportion that exists in America today. It’s clear that certain stigmas still persist and these stigmas need to disappear in order for women to be equally represented.

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