Board diversity and director tenure continue to be “hot” governance topics. For example, last week CalPERS publicly released its new environmental, social and governance strategic plan and listed board diversity and inclusion as one of its six key strategic initiatives in an effort to enhance financial performance. A Credit Suisse study showed that companies with at least one female director had a higher average return on equity from 2005 to 2015 . However, gender diversity is lagging. A recent ISS survey ranks the U.S. last in the increase of women on boards in countries that do not impose gender diversity quotas, increasing by just 2.4 percent among S&P 500 companies between 2011 and 2014.
Some companies have begun deliberate strategies to recruit more qualified female directors. Strategies include interviewing at least one woman for each board vacancy, restricting initial searches to women candidates only or eliminating prior board experience as a prerequisite to board service.