SV150 Board Diversity Update

Silicon Valley Tech Sees Rapid Increase in Women on Public Boards

Dotty Schaffer, June 20th, 2019

The tech sec­tor may be known for the rapid adop­tion of change, but I con­fess I was sur­prised to see the short amount of time it has tak­en for wom­en’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the board­rooms of Sil­i­con Val­ley to go way up.

Cur­rent­ly women direc­tors fill 23% of the board seats on the Lon­er­gan SV150. Com­pared to our study of Sil­i­con Val­ley boards pub­lished in the 2015 Who Runs Sil­i­con Val­ley Board edi­tion, this is an increase of nine per­cent­age points. 

SV150 Board Mem­ber­ship over Time

Sum­mer 2015Sum­mer 2018Sum­mer 2019
SV150 board seats110012501310
Women filled board seats 157237307
Per­cent women filled board seats14%19%23%
Num­ber boards with no women members45247

Source: Lon­er­gan Part­ners 2015 Who Runs Sil­i­con Val­ley board report and the Lon­er­gan SV150 annu­al analy­sis 2018 – 19; board com­po­si­tion data was sourced both from com­pa­ny web­sites and proxy infor­ma­tion. 2015 board data above adjust­ed to include all 150 com­pa­nies of the Mer­cury News SV150 (report­ed data in sum­mer 2015 exclud­ed six acquired companies).

This rapid change in part reflects the impact of leg­is­la­tion passed in 2018, requir­ing pub­lic com­pa­nies head­quar­tered in Cal­i­for­nia to have at least one woman on the board by the end of 2019. This require­ment steps up so that by the end of 2021, these boards will need at least three women direc­tors. How­ev­er, our track­ing shows the move­ment began well before the 2018 leg­is­la­tion was passed.

Some oth­er high­lights from our research:

The increase in women-filled board seats since 2015 (150 seats) rep­re­sents 71% of the total increase in board seats (210 seats). This is con­sis­tent with my obser­va­tion in work­ing with boards that they have react­ed to the cur­rent chal­lenge in two ways: fill­ing seats com­ing vacant with women, and even more often adding women-filled seats to the board. 

Oth­er key sta­tis­tics we have found in our research:

Larg­er Com­pa­nies have more women in the boardroom

Com­pa­ny GroupAver­age Board Size Aver­age # Women Direc­torsPer­cent­age Women
All SV1508.82.023%
Top 5010.12.626%
Mid­dle 508.31.923%
Bot­tom 507.91.620%

Note: rank­ing based on 2018 sales

Women CEOs serve with more women direc­tors than male CEOs

Com­pa­ny GroupAver­age Board Size Aver­age # Women Direc­torsPer­cent­age Women
All SV1508.82.023%
Women CEOs only9.43.335%
Women CEOs only (exclud­ing the CEO)8.72.023%
Men CEOs only8.42.327%

Note: aver­age board size includes the CEO except where not­ed; board pop­u­la­tion was sourced in May 2019

These rapid changes to board gen­der diver­si­ty have clear­ly required sig­nif­i­cant board time and effort. None of this change is easy, espe­cial­ly when Sil­i­con Val­ley boards appear to be look­ing for new tal­ent en masse. For my thoughts on suc­ces­ful­ly recruit­ing women to SV150 boards in a tight tal­ent mar­ket, read my blog post Board Diver­si­ty in 2019.

BIODotty Schaffer

Partner, Lonergan Partners

Specialty: Public Company Boards


[email protected]

BIODotty Schaffer Portrait