The representation of women on the boards of Wisconsin’s largest public companies has increased slightly from 2019, while the percentage of those boards with three or more female directors has dropped since last year. According to Milwaukee Women inc’s new research report, 21.1% of director seats on the boards of the state’s 50 largest public companies are held by women, up from 20.8% in 2019. The nonprofit group has produced research on board gender diversity of the 50 largest Wisconsin-based public companies since 2003. MWi’s target is for women to occupy 25% of board seats at those companies by 2025.Among the top 50 companies, 26% have three or more female directors, down from 30% in 2019, which the report said is largely due to the retirement of several women board members. According to MWi, having thee women directors on a board is significant because research has found that women need to hold that many seats to create critical mass. Eight percent of the companies have four or more women board members, compared to 6.7% last year. “We continued to move the needle with an increase in the percentage of women directors on the boards of the top 50 Wisconsin public companies reaching 21.1% in 2020 – the highest since we began measuring. Especially noteworthy is the fact that eight percent of the companies now have four or more women board members, a significant milestone,” said Pat Ackerman, senior vice president of A.O. Smith Corp. and chair of Milwaukee Women inc. “This continued momentum is exciting as we move closer toward our goal of 25% by 2025.”ManpowerGroup topped the list with the highest percentage of female directors (45%).The percentage of women executives among Wisconsin’s largest public companies also continues to rise, according to the study. Women executives among the state’s 50 largest public companies now comprise 21.9% of executives, up from 21.2% in 2019. Thirty-eight percent of the state’s 50 largest public companies have three or more women executives, a 12% increase from 2019.Exact Sciences Corp. again ranked first with the most female executives, with seven out of 25 of its executives being women.“As more and more CEOs and companies recognize that different perspectives, experience and viewpoints lead to better decision-making and outcomes, they are casting a wider net in recruiting new board members,” Ackerman said. “They are seeking a broader range of skill sets, from operations, technology and sales, to international and human resources expertise. A diverse board fosters a culture of inclusion that starts at the top and helps to recruit and retain valuable employees, while building a pipeline for future board and executive roles.”
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