Watermark Index


In 2005, Watermark formally introduced the Watermark Index in partnership the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis, to honor publicly traded Bay Area-based companies where women hold 30 percent or more of the companies’ governing boards and top-five compensated executive positions.

The intent of the Index is to celebrate companies that support the development of women and ensure equal opportunity in their organizations, particularly at the executive level – and to provide a benchmark for success.

Our Index in 2015-16 UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders, explored the presence of women in top-compensated positions and governing board seats in California’s 400 largest public companies.

For the Index, UC Davis analyzed the 223 largest public companies headquartered in the Bay Area and found that in 11 (4.9 percent) of the companies, women hold 30 percent or more of the top-five compensated executive positions and board seats.

Among the study’s highlights:

  • Williams-Sonoma Inc. holds the top spot in gender diversity in the Bay Area with 57.1 percent, or almost double the 30 percent benchmark. In fact, William-Sonoma has the highest percentage among the largest public companies statewide.
  • Of the 11 companies that make up the inaugural Watermark Index, four are pharmaceutical companies and three are technology companies – both traditionally male-dominated industries.
  • From a revenue standpoint, companies on the Watermark Index outperformed other companies in the region by 49 percent – and companies in the state by 35 percent.

The full list of companies on the Watermark Index includes:

  • Arista Networks, Santa Clara
  • Genomic Health, Redwood City
  • Geron, Menlo Park
  • Intersect ENT, Menlo Park
  • Medivation, San Francisco
  • Restoration Hardware, Corte Madera
  • Simpson Strong-Tie, Pleasanton
  • Wells Fargo, San Francisco
  • Williams-Sonoma Inc., San Francisco
  • Yahoo, Sunnyvale
  • Zendesk, San Francisco

First Republic Bank and HP join the Watermark Index as honorable mentions.

In 2015, the winners of the Index were honored at Watermark’s signature event, the Make Your Mark Awards.

Watermark encourages leaders of the other 212 Bay Area companies to take an honest look at their gender diversity makeup to determine areas for improvement and next steps.

“This important issue is getting some much-needed attention,” says Graduate School of Management Research Specialist Amanda Kimball, author of the UC Davis study. “I hope the Watermark Index serves as a catalyst for more companies to recognize the importance of gender and racial diversity on leadership teams.”

For companies that want to increase their gender diversity at all levels, Watermark can help companies and employees achieve the right balance for optimal success.