EWNJ report: Number of women on corporate boards has risen dramatically in past 10 years — but still has ways to go

Biennial Seat at the Table report shows board membership has increased to 29% (up from 14% 10 years ago) and only 3% of N.J. companies do not have woman on board

The number of female board members on public companies in New Jersey has risen by 15 percentage points (to 29%) in the past 10 years. And the numbers of companies that do not have a single woman on their board has dropped dramatically (from 33% to 3%), according to the 2023 Seat at the Table report released Thursday by the Executive Women of New Jersey.

The 2023 version of the report, which is released biennially and is the only report on the diversification of senior governance positions at public companies in New Jersey, illustrates a state in which the participation of women on corporate boards in New Jersey has increased dramatically — but remains far from a statistical makeup that matches women in the workplace.

Gender parity on boards

According to the 2023 A Seat at the Table report by Executive Women of New Jersey, four companies have now reached (or exceeded) gender parity on their boards:

  • Organon & Co. (69% women);
  • American Water Works (60%);
  • The Children’s Place (55%);
  • Johnson & Johnson (50%).

No company had achieved this mark in 2013.

Courtney McCormick, president of EWNJ and senior vice president of audit, enterprise risk and compliance at Public Service Enterprise Group, said this year’s report, “A Seat at the Table: A Decade of Perseverance and Progress,” is a milestone moment for the group.

“It’s a celebration of the dedication EWNJ has poured into advancing women’s leadership representation over the last 10 years,” she said. “As an organization, we believe it’s crucial to pause and appreciate the strides women have taken in top roles, while also reaffirming our commitment to advocating for gender equality in corporate leadership.”

McCormick noted that there still is more work to be done.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Among the key findings over the past 10 years:

  • Of 725 board seats in 74 companies, 209, or 29%, were held by women. This is an increase of fifteen percentage points from 2013, when 14% of seats were held by women.
  • The 13 New Jersey Fortune 500 companies on the Russell 3000 list did even better, with 52 of 142, or 37%, of seats held by women. This is a substantial increase from 2013, when women held only 19% of board seats in these companies.

The honor roll

The Executive Women of New Jersey, in commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of the organization’s ground-breaking A Seat at the Table report, announced the companies on the 2023 Honor Roll — an honor bestowed on companies that have 35% or more women in senior governance positions.

A look at those on the Honor Roll, presented alphabetically:

  • ADP
  • AdvanSix
  • American Water
  • The Children’s Place
  • CompoSecure
  • Essential Properties REIT
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck & Co.
  • Organon & Co.
  • PMV Pharmaceuticals
  • Prudential Financial
  • Public Service Enterprise Group
  • PTC Therapeutics
  • Quest Diagnostics
  • Universal Display Corp.
  • Verisk Analytics
  • Zoetis

  • Only two companies, or 3%, had no women on their boards. This was the case for 33, or 30%, of New Jersey’s top companies in 2013.
  • Women accounted for 191 of the 699 top executives, or 27%, in 2023. In 2013, the number was 16%.
  • Women were 73 of 367 top earners, or 20%, in 2023. While far below parity, this representation has doubled since 2013, when women made up only 10%.
  • Relatively little has changed at the top. There were six women CEOs in New Jersey’s top companies in 2023; there were four in 2013.

The report also 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.

Susan Dromsky-Reed, president-elect of EWNJ and co-chair of trusts and estates at Brach Eichler, said the report aims to illuminate information.

“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,” she said. “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.”

This, despite proof that it is bad for business.

“As evidenced in our reports, companies with more diverse boards outperform their counterparts,” she said. “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.”