Women have made huge progress in the workplace over the last several decades, and the findings of a new study commissioned by WWD prove that we’ve come a long way, especially in industries with largely female consumers.
The study looked at how many women serve on the boards of various fashion, beauty, and retail firms in the U.S. and other countries. Among a selection of 17 of those types of companies in America, women represent 23.8 percent of board seats compared to 21.3 percent, the average for the Dow 30. Sweden had the largest percentage of female board members, with 53.8 (thanks to H&M). After Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S. ranked highest; Italy came in last, with just 3.8 percent female board members. A few European countries, such as Norway, have implemented laws to get more women on company boards, and proposed legislation in France would require 40 percent of board seats to be filled by women within six years.
But then there are corporations, including Gap Inc., Puma, Esprit, Bulgari, and Tods, that don’t have a single women on their boards. While this is rather depressing, it is nice to know that other companies recognize and value the unique qualities women bring to the boardroom table. Patrick Thomas, CEO of Hèrmes International, where 70 percent of employees are women, said they bring a “different sensibility than men. They pay more attention to detail, and, in our business, details are crucial.” Hopefully, this sentiment will seep into other firms within and outside of the fashion, beauty, and retail industries. [WWD]