Lipscomb, CABLE study shows increase in women on boards of TN public companies

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Reposted from The Tennessean • Sept. 25, 2013 • By Jamie McGee

Woman on boards picMore Tennessee public com­panies have added women to their boards and female repre­sentation has slightly in­creased, but men continue to make up the majority on those corporate boards, according to a new report.

The number of companies lacking female representatives on boards dropped to 25, or 40 percent, of 62 publicly traded companies included in the study, from 29 in the previous year, according to “Women in Corporate Leadership: 2012 Census,” a study by Lipscomb University College of Business and CABLE, a national nonprof­it that connects women with business opportunities.

The number of companies with two or more women on their boards increased to 15, or 24 percent, according to the 2011 data, up from 10 companies in 2010.

Despite the gains, women re­mained in the overwhelming minority on corporate boards. According to 2011 data, women held 9.6 percent, or 53 of 554 di­rector roles at Tennessee public companies, compared to 8.1per­cent in 2010. By comparison, women made up 48 percent of the labor force in Tennessee in 2011, according to the U.S. De­partment of Labor.

“There is some improve­ment, but we still have so much work to do,” said Susan Huggins, exec­utive director of CABLE in Nashville. “That’s why it’s so important for us to not let up now. (A company’s) decision­making process changes and, we think, improves when you have women represented at the board level and in the C-suites.” Lebanon-based Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. was the only public company in the state with three women serving on its 10-person board, based on the 2011 data. Howev­er, one of the company’s female board members, Martha Mitch­ell, announced she would be stepping down from the board at the end of her term this year. The company has decided to re­duce its board to nine members instead of replacing her.

Of the state’s Fortune 500 companies, Dollar General Corp. and HCA Holdings Inc. had no women directorsin 2011, according to the report. However, Dollar General did add two women to its board in 2012, after the study period. HCA, meanwhile, added a female board member in May.

Fifty-three percent of the 62 public companies had no women officers in 2011, and the number of women in officer positions at Tennessee public companies remained stagnant, with women holding 43 of 413 positions, or10.2 percent. That compares to 10.3 percent in 2010 and 8.6 percent in 2006. Sandra Cochran, Cracker Barrel CEO, and Amy Miles, CEO of Knoxville- based Regal Entertainment Group, were the only female CEOs of the state’s publicly traded companies in 2011. In 2011, there were no women of color serving as officers with Tennessee public companies, and just four directors among 554 total positions, the report said.

Huggins said while the study focused on public companies, there have been more significant gains in women leadership among private companies in Tennessee.

“There is a lot more progress being made at some of the private companies,” she said. “We are encouraged by that but not necessarily overjoyed. There is still a lot of progress that can be made.”