Percentage of women on corporate boards in Wisconsin has more than doubled since 2003

Largest companies added net of 7 women directors this year

Women in Business breakfast panelists Kim Metcalf-Kupres, retired vice president & CMO of Johnson Controls; Coreen Dicus-Johnson, CEO and president of Network Health; Margaret Farrow, former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin; and Laurie Benson, executive director of Nurses on Boards Coalition; and moderator Kimberly Kane, president and founder of Kane Communication Group.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:21 pm

The percentage of board seats occupied by women at Wisconsin’s largest public companies increased to 18.9 percent in 2018, according to research by Milwaukee Women Inc.

The 50 largest public companies based in the state had a total of 86 women on their boards, seven more than in 2017 and an increase of 1.3 percent from 2017. Milwaukee Women Inc. highlighted nine newly appointed women directors, including two at Bemis and one each at Kohl’s Corp., Lands’ End inc., MGE Inc., MGIC Investment Corp., Physicians Realty Trust, Plexus Corp. and Schneider National Inc.

The percentage of board seats occupied by women has more than doubled since 2003 when it was at 9.3 percent.

Milwaukee Women Inc. also highlighted an increase in the number of companies with at least three women on their boards. In 2014, there were five such companies and this year there are 12.

“Many organizations and individuals have studied the power of three, the concept that companies, (and) groups, when you have at least three or more women, are more successful than those peers that are underrepresented,” said Lindsay Hammerer, a partner at KPMG and chair of Milwaukee Women Inc.

Among Fortune 1000 companies, women’s representation on boards is strongest among utility companies in Wisconsin. The 33 percent of women directors for industry companies in the state outpaces the nation, which is at 23 percent.

Wisconsin does lag behind in technology board representation at 12 percent, compared to 19 percent for the country as a whole. Financial services – 19 percent for Wisconsin compared to 22 percent nationally – and industrials – 17 percent compared to 18 percent – are two other weak points. The state is slightly ahead in the consumer cyclical sector at 22 percent compared to 21 percent nationally.

Outside the board room among executives generally, the 50 largest companies have also seen an improvement with 18.9 percent of positions held by women. In 2014, 12.4 percent of executive positions were held by women.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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