National study with College of Business research ranks state last in women boards members

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According to a national study that used research conducted by the Lipscomb University College of Business, Tennessee ranks last nationwide in the percentage of public company board seats held by women.
The seventh annual benchmarking study issued in March by the InterOrganization Network (ION), titled “How Change Happens,” also found that Tennessee was next to last by other key measures of gender diversity at the top.
The study captured information on female directors and executive officers of public companies, based on FYE 2009 SEC filings, in 14 regions of the United States. Information in each region was provided by that area’s ION member organization. In Nashville CABLE spearheaded the study for Tennessee and the research was conducted by Lipscomb University.
Virtual Board Walk of Fame in Swang Business Center
To further highlight the need to close the gender gap in the state’s executive suites, Lipscomb’s College of Business installed the Virtual Board Walk of Fame, a permanent interactive display in the Swang Business Center that honors Tennessee’s female CEOs and directors as well as companies within the state that include women directors.
The Board Walk of Fame will be updated continuously as the College of Business documents the results of progress made through the ongoing “Women in Corporate Leadership” study.
While ION’s census reveals limited presence of women in corporate leadership nationwide, the Tennessee figures in all categories compare unfavorably to other states and metro areas surveyed. For example:
  • With only 8.3 percent of the 617 board seats on Tennessee public companies held by women, our state ranked at the bottom of the “Percent of Board Seats Held by Women” category among ION affiliate regions.
  • Only 12.7 percent of the 71 board seats for Fortune 500 companies were held by women in Tennessee, making it next to last by this measure.  
  • Only 1.4 percent of Tennessee’s companies claimed 25% or more women directors, ranking next to last in this category as well.
“Our vision is that ‘Tennessee moves from last to first in nationwide rankings for gender diversity’. It’s a lofty goal, but given the many qualified women in Tennessee we see no reason to set the standard any lower,” said Sue Herrman, Co-Chair of CABLE’s Women on Corporate Boards (WoCB) committee.
Lipscomb University has partnered with CABLE in this initiative. This past March, the university hosted CABLE’s March 2 Board Walk of Fame event, which highlights the existing role models for gender diversity in Tennessee, including women board directors and the eleven companies in the state with more gender-diverse boards.
To see the complete ION report and the Tennessee “Women in Corporate Leadership” study go to