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An analysis of the boardrooms of the top 3,000 U.S. publicly traded companies known as the Russell 3000 finds that only 30.7% of 587 new board appointments in the first three months of 2024 were women, the lowest percentage since 2017. 

The report, issued last week by the global nonprofit 50/50 Women on Boards and the executive data company Equilar, finds that despite some sector and regional improvements, 41% of the Russell 3000 companies still had boards with two or fewer women.  

In the latest findings, 40% of directors disclosed their race and ethnicity, marking progress in board diversification. Women and men of color now collectively hold 19.4% of board seats, up from 19.2% in the previous quarter. Women of color hold 7.8% of board seats, while men of color hold 11.6%, indicating similar rates of advancement.  

“At this rate, achieving gender parity on boards and 20% women of color representation will not happen until 2045,” the report said. 

In Q1 2024, the count of gender-balanced boards rose by only one to 354 companies, which represents about 12% of the Russell 3000. However, boards boasting three or more women saw a notable uptick, increasing by 21 to 1,341 companies, or 46% of the Russell 3000. 

Conversely, the number of companies featuring zero women on boards declined by seven alongside decreases in boards with 1 or 2 women, which dropped by 8 and 37 companies, respectively. 

“These shifts underscore a significant trend: Companies with less diverse boards exhibit a higher likelihood of exiting the Russell 3000 list due to factors such as sales, mergers, or bankruptcy,” the report said. 

Analyzing boardroom diversity by industry, the Utilities sector stands out for its diversity efforts with 34.1% women on boards, higher than the 29.7% average percentage of women on boards in the Russell 3000. Conversely, the Financial Services sector ranks as the least diverse with 26.8% women on boards. 

The report also explored state-level data to determine the percentage of women on boards and gender-balanced publicly traded company boards. California continues to lead with 33.9% women on boards and 23.1% gender-balanced boardrooms. Conversely states such as Florida, Nevada, and Utah, with more than 20 public companies located in the state, have the fewest women on boards. 

In New Jersey, the percentage of women on boards in Q1 of 2024 was 28%, the same as in Q4 of 2023, the report said. The percentage of gender-balanced boards in New Jersey was 9%, a decrease from 10% in Q4 of 2023. 

The advocacy group 50/50 Women on Boards is committed to accelerating gender balance and diversity on corporate boards and has set a goal of women holding 50% of all corporate board seats and women of color holding at least 20% of all corporate board seats. Their latest report reflects data made available as of March 31.