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Women Business Collaborative: January 2021 Report Summary

The 40% Trend Continues

2021 is starting off positive, with women comprising 39.5% of board appointments. This continues a five-month trend where women are, on average, 39.8% of appointments to board seats of public companies. This rise coincides with a rise in women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to 8.4%, with Rosalind Brewer’s appointment (Board, Starbucks) to CEO of Walgreens Boots.

In January, public companies appointed 141 women and 216 men to their boards. Notably, 87 of the 141 women are first-time board appointees. This is critical as it brings the overall number of women holding public board seats up and indicates that the pipeline is expanding.

Public companies continue to focus on diversity, with 37 of the women identifying as women of color. Of this 45% or 17 of the women appointed identified as African American, with 11 identifying as Asian-American. This reflects trends in previous months, but in January, women identifying as Hispanic comprised 20.5%, up from under 15% in previous months.


In January, healthcare companies lead the way in the appointments of women followed by financial services, where 15.4% of the companies appointing women included companies such as First United, appointing two women, and Prudential.

The overall trends across companies show growth for the number of women and people of color appointed to public companies’ boards. This trend is also matched with a rise in the number of appointees who are “first-time” board members. Equilar and WBC are tracking and analyzing the growth and rotation of board seats and the expanding candidate pool.

We will continue to track not only the women in terms of numbers, diversity and profile; but the companies and industries in which female board members are present and how many of the overall board seats are held by women. The time is now for women to sit across all companies, boards, and sectors. Please, join us in celebrating, tracking, analyzing, and promoting women on boards of public companies.



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