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Women’s Gains on Bank Boards at Risk of Stalling

  • ‘Social norms’ mean boards look to peers for diversity cues
  • Bank board diversity stuck at about 33% for past eight months
Bloomberg business news
Women Hit a Record Share of S&P 500 Board Seats in 2021
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Women on corporate boards at the largest U.S. banks are at risk of stalling out at about 33% of seats unless there’s a real pickup in pressure from outside the companies.

As recently as 2013, banks had determined that having two women on their boards was the appropriate level, said Edward Chang, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, who was part of a 2018 research project that introduced the idea of “twokenism” to describe boards stopping at a pair of female directors. That view has changed, particularly following last year’s requirement under California law that forces many companies to have three women on their boards. It makes sense now that the social norm would settle at “threekonism,” he said.