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Fortune 500 companies increased gender diversity in 2018


As leadership boards at Fortune 500 companies become more gender diverse, racial diversity still lags, according to a new report.

Of the 462 leadership positions at major companies filled in 2018, 183 went to women. The growth represents a 34% increase since 2017, when women filled 137 of the new positions.

The report, administered by executive search company Heidrick & Struggles, projects Fortune 500 boards will have equal number of men and women on boards by 2023.

Racially diverse leaders did not see the same gains, though. African-Americans filled just 11% of new board seats, according to the report, unchanged from the year before. Hispanic leaders replaced an abysmal 4% of new board seats in 2018, representing a drop from 2017.

Read more: A Twitter cofounder says a more diverse team would have addressed abuse earlier. Science says he’s probably right.

Asian-American board members replaced 8% of vacancies.

“Taken as a whole, these results are encouraging, but there’s still much work to be done to reach gender parity by 2023 and to create more diverse boards,” said Bonnie Gwin, vice chairman at Heidrick & Struggles, in a release.

The shift represents a win for the #MeToo movement, when many women spoke out against harassment in their workplaces. Some companies replaced ousted executives with women, such as Jennifer Salke, who took over as head of Amazon Studios from Roy Price. Of the 201 powerful men fired for harassment charges, women replaced nearly half of their roles, according to The New York Times.

Chief executive officers at major companies remain overwhelmingly white and male. As of last year, just 25 women and three black men were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Without racial diversity, companies may be losing out on valuable insight. Companies with diverse leadership innovate more, review information more carefully, and make fewer mistakes, according to research.

Twitter’s co-founder Ev Williams shed light on this issue after he said a more diverse leadership team could have spotted the platform’s evasive harassment from the get-go.

“Had I been more aware of how people not like me were being treated and/or had I had a more diverse leadership team or board, we may have made it a priority sooner,” Williams wrote on Twitter.


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