The Thirty Percent Coalition Launches Critical Mass Campaign to Dramatically Increase Number of Women on Corporate Boards

Coalition sets goal of 30% women on every board.

New York, N.Y. – February 16, 2012 – Twenty-seven industry leaders, including senior business executives, national women's organizations, institutional investors, corporate governance experts and

board members gathered for a high-level summit in late 2011 to address the lack of gender diversity in corporate boardrooms. Prompted by what participants called “glacial progress” on increasing the number of women on U.S. corporate boards – a number which has essentially remained stagnant over the past five years – the leaders formed the Thirty Percent Coalition. Today, the Coalition launched a “Critical Mass Campaign” targeted at CEOs, institutional investors and other stakeholders to secure a minimum of 30 percent multicultural women on every US-based publically listed company board of directors .


“When it comes to bringing diversity to corporate boards, progress has come to a halt,” said Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane, president of InterOrganization Network (ION), the national nonprofit organization that convened the Summit. “It’s time to set ambitious goals rather than settle for the current inertia. We formed the Thirty Percent Coalition to move the needle on an issue that is critical to women and to the success of American business.”

Other nations, most notably in Europe, have taken bold steps to move beyond studies, reports, and supply-side solutions (for example, training and making available more qualified women), opting in favor of quotas and other demand-side initiatives to prompt companies to change their board recruitment and selection practices.

“The Thirty Percent Coalition strongly encourages corporate leadership across the U.S. to focus on gender diversity in their boardrooms as a critical part of the overall business strategy for future growth,” said Laurent-Ottomane.

According to Catalyst’s 2011 census of Fortune 500 companies, women held just 16.1 percent of board seats in 2011 compared to 15.7 percent in 2010, and data on female executives and top earners indicates that women are no further along the corporate ladder than they were six years ago. ION’s 2011 Status Report noted that of the 542 new independent directors elected to corporate boards in 12 regions critical to the U.S. economy, the same meager percentage (16.1) were women. Comparing 2011 to 2009, the statistics are equally dismal. According to Governance Metrics International, the share of board seats held by women barely budged from 12.1 percent to 12.3 percent across 1,763 publicly traded U.S. companies.