Since 2005, the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, in partnership with Watermark, has conducted an annual study of women business leaders in California's 400 largest public companies. Watermark and UC Davis release the results annually providing a forum to advocate for change. This study provided research and data that led to the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 62 in August 2013, making California the first state in the U.S. to urge public companies to add more women to their corporate boards.
“Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly thereof concurring, That the Legislature acknowledges that the body of evidence to date concludes that companies perform better when their boards and executive leadership include women, and that the State of California has a significant stake in both protecting the shareholders of publicly traded companies, as well as setting policies that enable them to perform better.”
— California State Concurrent Resolution 62, approved by both Senate (Aug. 26,2013) and Assembly (September 12, 2013), prompted by the Watermark-UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders
Key findings from the 2014-2015 study include:
- Overall, women hold just 11.5 percent of board seats and highest-paid executive positions—a 0.6% increase over last year.
- One quarter—101 (25.3 percent)—of our California 400 have no women among their directors and highest-paid executives. This has improved marginally from 107 (26.8 percent) companies last year.
- Of the 3,340 board director seats, women hold 403 (12.4%) and men hold 2,837 (87.6 percent). A linear projection of the current rate would predict women holding 19.9 percent of California director positions in 2020 and 44.8 percent in 2040.
- Among the 1,868 highest-paid executives, 185 (9.9 percent) are women and 1,683 (90.1 percent) are men. Only 14 of the 400 companies have a woman serving as CEO; 50 have a woman CFO.
- No company has an all-female board and management team. Two companies have gender-balanced leadership teams (50 percent women).
- Among counties with at least 20 companies, San Francisco has the most women board directors (17 percent), and Los Angeles has the fewest (10.7 percent). San Mateo has the most highest-paid women executives (16.3 percent), and Los Angeles has the fewest (7.7 percent).