Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ) released its 2023 biennial A Seat at the Table: A Decade of Perseverance and Progress report during its recent Gender Diversity Awards and Power Networking Breakfast. This year’s report reveals a significant rise in women’s representation on corporate boards over the last decade. In 2023, women comprised 29% of board seats, marking a substantial 15% increase from 2013. Additionally, the percentage of companies in New Jersey with no female board members dropped from 30% to a mere 3%. Four companies have reached or exceeded gender parity, a milestone that was unattainable in 2013.
According to M. Courtney McCormick, president of EWNJ and senior vice president of audit, enterprise risk & compliance at PSEG, “While we’ve seen significant progress overall, the number of women CEOs remains stagnant, and women of color remain sorely underrepresented in top corporate positions. Mentorship, sponsorship, and encouragement must continue to be prioritized for nurturing leaders and strengthening diversity within corporate cultures. This report proves our measurable impact over the last 10 years, and I remain excited to stay the course.”
The report delves into the state of diversity in corporate leadership, revealing that a majority of board seats in New Jersey are still held by white men. However, there has been significant growth in diversity on public company boards in 2021 and 2022, largely because of heightened attention to racial diversity following the tragic murder of George Floyd. Nonetheless, the number of board members from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds remains significantly below the levels needed to achieve equity.
Interviews with five influential business leaders uncovered critical insights and perspectives on the imperative need for increased female representation in high-ranking governance positions. These leaders include: Michele C. Meyer-Shipp, CEO of Dress for Success; Sharon Hall, vice president of global executive recruiting at Walmart; Jennifer Velez, executive vice president of health & network solutions at Horizon; Susan Tomasky, director of the board at Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG); and George Davis, founder and managing partner at Davis Partners Group (DPG).
“For the past 10 years, A Seat at the Table report has served as our state’s benchmark on tracking diversity in senior corporate governance, to educate the public on the value and impact of women’s leadership. Unfortunately, misperceptions remain about gender diversity and diversity in general. While our report finds positive momentum in diversifying corporate leadership, white men still comprise the majority of board members,” stated Susan K. Dromsky-Reed, president elect of EWNJ and co-chair of trusts and estates at Brach Eichler LLC. “As evidenced in our reports, companies with more diverse boards outperform their counterparts. Yet, despite this fact, women are consistently underrepresented in boardrooms, particularly in chief executive positions. But, it’s heartening to see that companies are catching on, and we’re encouraged by the momentum. We will continue to do our part to ensure that women have equal access to opportunities and a seat at the table.”
The A Seat at the Table Breakfast held in Florham Parl featured an award ceremony for 17 New Jersey companies recognized on its 2023 Honor Roll of companies whose boards have 35% or more women. A list of the honorees can be viewed at www.ewnj.org.
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