App reveals leadership gender ratios at nearly 2,000 major brands, highlighting companies with little to no female leadership
JUNE 14, 2016 — Research group LedBetter launches its gender equality index and interactive application today to spotlight the gender ratio of company leaders at nearly 2,000 major consumer brands. It also released a series of findings about women in leadership at large, influential corporations, including many that market primarily to women.
“LedBetter’s mission is to make public which companies score well when it comes to gender equality in leadership, and which ones don’t,” says co-founder and CEO Iris Kuo. “So often we buy products without knowing who’s behind them and how they align with our personal values. With LedBetter, that information is just one click away.”
The LedBetter Database calls attention to two key metrics: the gender ratios on a company’s board and its executive team. These figures present a complete picture of the level of gender equality in a company’s leadership. The LedBetter Index Score and rank reflects each company’s results — and all of the brands they manage — in those two areas. (See below for more information on LedBetter Index Scores).
Backed by the International Women’s Media Foundation, LedBetter’s mission dovetails with enormous evidence that women in corporate leadership make a difference to the success of companies. Earlier in 2016, the Peterson Institute for International Economics released a study of 22,000 companies showing that having women in top leadership was correlated with greater profitability. The nonprofit group Catalyst has also shown that having more women on boards of directors correlates with higher return on sales and better stock growth.
“We often focus on how many women are on a company’s board, but representation on executive teams is also a key measure of whether companies are committed to addressing the issue of scant representation of women in business leadership,” Kuo says. “Our interactive application at GetLedBetter.com makes it possible for users to click through, explore popular brands and companies, and see how many women are in those C-suites and on those boards.”
LedBetter Key Findings:
The LedBetter Database holds 230 parent companies that own nearly 2,000 of the world’s most popular consumer brands. Significant findings include:
- Only 6% of the database’s CEOs are women — that’s 14 female CEOs out of 230 companies featured.
- The average Index Score was 21.0, indicating that the average of the percentage of women on executive teams and the percentage of women on boards was 21%
- Average board representation was 23%, and average executive team representation was 19%. A company’s executive team is defined by the executives listed on its investor relations/corporate governance website.
- Nine companies have no women in executive or board leadership, scoring a zero on the LedBetter Index. Thirty-four companies have no women in executive leadership. Fifteen companies have no women on their boards. (See attachment for full list.)
- By industry, energy scored the worst, with an average Index Score of 13.3, followed by transportation, which scored 14.9.
Some companies that market and sell predominantly to women had little to no female representation. These companies include:
- Coty — which sells Rimmel makeup, Sally Hansen beauty products and fragrances by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez — has no women on its executive team or board.
- L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works, has a LedBetter Index Score of 8.3, with zero women on its executive team and 17% female representation on its board.
- Compagnie Financière Richemont, which owns the Cartier luxury jewelry brand, has a score of 2.8, representing 6% women on its board and zero women on its executive leadership team.
In some cases, results were uneven but still notable. Revlon, maker of Revlon and Almay beauty products, has 7% female executives and a 33% female board. Mattel, maker of Barbie dolls, has 0% women on its executive team and 30% women on its board. LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, De Beers and Sephora, has 8% female executives and 35% female board members.
Several well-known companies scored a zero on the LedBetter Index, with no women on either their boards or executive teams—Nintendo, Kia*, Samsung* and Nissan. Discovery Communications, which owns the Oprah Winfrey Network, has no women on its board. Honda has no women in executive leadership, and neither does Adidas, which also owns Reebok.
Other media and entertainment companies also performed poorly on the index. 21st Century Fox has 8% women on its board and 15% in executive leadership. CBS has a 15% female board and zero women in top leadership. Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, has no women on its executive team and 18% representation on its board for a LedBetter Index Score of 9.1.
Several transportation companies also had low scores. Delta Airlines has an 11% female executive leadership and a 12% female board; and United Continental Holdings has a 14% female board and 10% female executive leadership.
Some companies scored particularly high on the Index:
- H&M Group boasts 58% women on its board and 41% in top leadership.
- Kering, which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, has a board that’s 64% women and an executive team that’s 36% women.
- Gap, Inc. has a 36% female board and a 57% female executive team.
- Best Buy, Prada Group, Etsy and Diageo (maker of Johnnie Walker) were also among the highest scorers in the index.
- Unilever, owner of everything from Dove to Noxzema, Klondike to Vaseline, scored 40.6 with its gender equal board and 31% female executive team.
*Only U.S. data available.
About the LedBetter Index Score
Index Scores were calculated using the following formula:
Index Score = Average of the [(% of women on board) * 100] and the [(% of women on executive team) * 100]
The resulting score reflects the average of a company’s percentage representation on its board and executive team on a 100-point scale. For example, a company with a LedBetter Index Score of 20.1 would have a 20.1% average female representation on its board and executive team. We selected the brands to include in the database from the Fortune 100 list and Forbes Most Valuable Brands list.
About the Founders
Iris Kuo, Co-founder and CEO of LedBetter, is a journalist and writer. She has reported for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Inc, The Houston Chronicle, VentureBeat and Argus Media. In 2015, she was selected as one of 10 Knight-Bagehot Fellows studying business and economic journalism at Columbia University. She was also chosen from a pool of more than 600 applicants to receive a $9,500 grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund to build LedBetter. Iris is the former president of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Texas chapter and holds an M.S. in journalism from Columbia.
Camille Ricketts, Co-founder and CMO of LedBetter, runs content and marketing for San Francisco-based venture capital firm First Round Capital, and is known for founding the First Round Review. Previously, she shaped content strategy for major microfinance nonprofit Kiva and managed communications for electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors. Before that, she worked as a journalist, covering green technology for VentureBeat, and culture and lifestyle for The Wall Street Journal in New York and London. Camille holds a B.A. in history from Stanford University, where she served as editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.
Factsheet of Top Findings
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