Established in 2004, ION is the national consortium and stakeholder organization whose mission is to increase the number of women appointed to corporate boards and to executive officer positions.

ION's Member Organizations represent nearly half of the 28 million women working in management and professional roles across the nation. ION is the only confederation of regional organizations in the US engaged in this work. To learn more about ION, go to

Recent News and Research Updates - March 2016


On the Road to Parity: Gender Lens Investing from UBS reviews the business & investment case for having more women in executive positions and on boards. The business case discussion focuses on the impact of diversity on collective intelligence, knowledge base diversity, and differentiated leadership skills. [Link

The Gender Forward Pioneer Index from Weber Shandwick found that the companies with the strongest reputations (based on the Fortune Global Most Admired Companies list for 2015) had twice as many women in their executive ranks (17% female) as the rest of the companies in the Fortune Global 500 (8% female).  [Link

Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership from AAUW provides a comprehensive review of the lack of women in leadership in business and government. The report also outlines the barriers & biases that limit women's advancement and recommends actions to address these issues. [Link

Glassdoor recently released data on the gender pay gap across jobs with similar titles held by men and women with similar education & experience. Using the salary data reported on their website, they found that men still out-earn women in most jobs, in some cases by as much as 28%. While there are a small number of jobs where women out-earn men, they are typically in fields that don't pay as well as top-dollar jobs like computer programming, and the gap is much smaller (ex: women out-earn men in social work by 8%). [Link

Glassdoor also surveyed men and women around the world to measure their perceptions of the gender pay gap, and it's clear that nobody likes to think they might be underpaid. Across the board, 70% of the respondents believe that men and women are paid equally in their company. Interestingly, 20% of US men think more women on boards would improve the pay gap, while only 16% of US women felt the same. [Link

Equilar found that only 14% (1,191) of the women currently serving as executive (Section 16) officers in US public companies are serving on a corporate board - meaning there are more than 7,300 women available for service. The study, conducted in conjunction with The 30% Club, also looks at the areas of expertise boards are tapping and lists 52 companies where women hold at least 30% of the board seats. [Link

Opportunities vs. Competencies:  A study by DDI found that while women and men share similar leadership traits, women are tapped less often for top positions. The study links fewer operational & strategic growth opportunities - not competency differences - to less advancement & lower pay for women. [Link

Collaboration Penalty: Harvard PhD candidate Heather Sarsons used collaboration on papers produced in economics and tenure promotions to examine gender differences in credit given to individuals when working in teams. Sarsons linked the number of journal articles solo-authored and co-authored to data regarding tenure and found that women who had produced primarily co-authored papers were much less likely to receive tenure than their male counterparts (40% of the women vs. 75% of the men) (Note: papers in economics list authors alphabetically vs. by contribution made). Sarsons found that the tenure gap between men and women was reduced as women increased the number of solo-authored papers they produced.  [Link]

By the Numbers

The Australian Institute of Corporate Directors says that the rate at which women are being appointed to corporate boards in their country (34% of new board appointments go to women) must grow to achieve their goal of 30% female corporate directors by 2018 (see the February 2016 quarterly report). Earlier estimates suggested that women would need to receive at least 40% of the new appointments to make that goal. [Link]

Canada is reporting that it lags behind when it comes to women on boards & top executives (in spite of their enlightened views of their prime minister). Only 8% of NEOs (named executive officers) in the 100 largest publicly-traded companies are female, and there are 66 companies out of the 100 studied with no women in their executive ranks. [Link

Fortune has reported that the number of companies among the F500 with all-male boards has actually increased from 23 to 24 in the past year. [Link

For Latin American countries, the percentage of board seats held by women ranges from 6% in Argentina to 14% in Columbia. A survey of current directors reported that cultural bias was considered the biggest impediment to increasing their numbers. [Link]

News Updates

  • Maternity Leave:  Global professional services firms are expected to increase paid maternity/ paternity leave to 26 weeks - but just in India, where it is now required by law. [Link]
  • University Officials on Corporate Boards: Controversy over UC Davis chancellor's board appointment has some asking if university officials should serve on corporate boards. [Link
  • Surprise!: S&P 500 companies with no women on their boards include Garmin (activity tracking bands, GPS) & Discovery Communications (the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, OWN and more). [Link]
  • Deloitte UK has released a socio-economic profile of its employee base and is taking what they found into consideration in talent management strategies aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion. Among their findings: almost 10% of their staff qualified for free school lunches, and half were the first in their family to attend college. [Link
  • Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act: While the US Chamber of Commerce isn't usually on the side of increased government regulation, they have written a letter of support to Rep. Carolyn Maloney for her Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act. The act would set up an advisory group to study gender diversity among corporate directors and require companies to disclose the gender composition of their board. [Link]
  • Taking the No All-Male Panel Pledge: The UN Global Compact announced that they will not host nor participate in all-male panels The move, announced at the Women's Empowerment Principles annual meeting, received a standing ovation from the attendees. 
  • Gender Diversity Index ETF: SSGA has launched the Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE) to track performance of businesses with the highest levels of gender diversity. [Link]
  • Generation Gap: A global survey of corporate directors found generational differences in beliefs about the lack of diversity on boards: men age 55+ said the primary reason was there aren't enough qualified women for boards. Women & men under age 55 said male-dominated traditional networks were the primary reason for the lack of women on boards. [Link
  • Running in Place: A new study of 300 Fortune 500 companies found that women are most likely to be appointed to a board if the departing board member is a woman. The study found that the "gender-matching" tendency is even stronger when it is a woman that departs. The researchers reported that based on their experiments, the most likely way to increase the number of female board appointments is to increase the number of women in the candidate pool. [Link
  • Disproportionate Impact: Researchers wanted to see if there was a gender difference in share price performance after the departure of a top executive or board member due to death or illness (in non-quota-impacted countries). They found that share price dropped 2% upon the sudden departure of a female leader, even more so if her replacement was a man (3% drop). In contrast, the departure of a male leader had no impact on share price. The assumption seems to be that to get to the top, women have had to be significantly better than their male counterparts. As a result, the loss of a female leader is likely to have a bigger impact. [Link
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