Today, when it comes to disclosing comprehensive data around gender when it comes to workers, board members, and suppliers, the results are varied. Of the 951 Russell 1000 companies that JUST Capital analyzed and ranked in 2023, approximately 79% disclosed data on how many women are in the workplace, 99% reported having at least one woman on their board, but only 5.6% disclosed spending on women-owned businesses
In combing through different company data and policy disclosures, JUST Capital identified four companies leading the pack in terms of publishing data around women in their workforces, on their boards, and with women-owned businesses in their supply chains – Citigroup, Accenture, General Mills, and The Hartford. These leaders are also innovating on programs to increase those numbers. Each had women representation in their workforce at or near 50%, had above 40% women representation on their boards, and disclosed how much they spend with women-owned suppliers.
Women are Finally Getting Back into the Workforce at Pre-Pandemic Levels
During the pandemic, women were more vulnerable to layoffs than men, were more likely to work in industries that suffered (hospitality, service sector), and were more likely to exit the workforce to care for their families.
But economic data shows a promising turning point. Women’s current labor force participation — that is, the percentage of women working or looking for work — is around 57.4% as of July 2023, almost back to the February 2020 number, 57.9%, per February government data.
Building a more resilient economy means building inclusion across industries for women, and makes the economy stronger and better able to weather future crises. According to JUST Capital polling, most Americans believe that women leaving the labor force is bad for the economy (66%), and bad for women’s equality (59%). JUST’s recent work on promoting inclusion in the workplace has also focused on the policies and practices that companies can and should implement including supporting paid family leave and equal pay.
Companies That Disclose Gender Diversity Data Have Outperformed Their Peers
In a 2022 analysis, JUST found that the share of companies publicly disclosing workforce demographic data by race, ethnicity, and gender by standardized job categories in their EEO-1 Report – the gold standard for workforce demographic disclosure – or similar intersectional data has more than tripled between 2021 and 2022, from 11% to 34%. Companies with 100 or more employees are already legally required to submit these reports to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission and Department of Labor, meaning that the data has already been collected, but not all companies make it publicly available. For example, 79% of the Russell 1000 disclose women’s representation within their workforce, but 21% do not. In a companion analysis exploring the business and investor case for increased disclosure, we found that the companies that disclose EEO-1 or similar intersectional data outperform those that don’t by 7.9% over the trailing one-year period ending in 2022.
Women have historically turned to customer-facing industries with more flexible hourly roles like accommodation, retail, and food services to meet the dual demands of work and caregiving. These industries were some of the most vulnerable to pandemic job losses. Our own analysis of companies in the Russell 1000 that disclosed workforce data demonstrated higher female representation persists in industries like clothing and accessories, and lower representation remains in industries related to energy and technology.
Companies At The Top Of JUST Capital’s Rankings Have Better Board Representation for Women and Disclosure of Women Supplier Spend
Company data within each decile shows that higher representation is taking place at the top of our rankings in board diversity. On average, the higher one’s rank, the higher one’s percent women on boards.
Out of the 54 companies that disclosed spend on women-owned supplier businesses, companies in the top decile were also most likely to have disclosed, and 53% of all companies who disclosed their spend on women-owned suppliers were represented in the top 20% of JUST Capital’s rankings.
For the workforce, trends aren’t as clear. Women’s average representation varies slightly between 36.47% and 43.3% throughout the rankings. At first thought, industry could be a driver for further analysis; for example, if industries with higher representation of women in the workforce are ranking lower, that could explain the slight variation. But upon evaluation of where companies aren’t disclosing (pictured below), a likely driver is that the slightly higher percentages at the bottom of the ranking are due to companies not disclosing their workforce.
In the top 10%, only 1 company does not disclose its representation of women in the workforce, while at the bottom 10%, 42 companies do not disclose, contributing to the seemingly higher representation of women in the bottom 10% of the rankings. With less companies disclosing, there are less inputs when averaging. This is why no matter the level of female representation in the workforce, it is imperative companies disclose the demographics of their workforce for us to fully understand the breadth of women’s representation in Russell 1000 companies.
The four leaders in our analysis all had women representation in their workforce at or near 50%, had above 40% women representation on their boards, and disclosed spending with women-owned suppliers. Here are additional details on how they are advancing more comprehensive policies and practices:
Citigroup: Ranked 7th in Banking Industry, 27th Overall
As part of its Global Diversity Strategy, Citigroup has made bold strides in addressing women representation through hiring, promoting from within, and retention strategies with 53% women representation. As part of the 30% Club, Citigroup has outperformed many of its peers in the banking industry, and discloses 50% women board representation.
Citigroup stands out from peers in its supplier practices, including increasing supplier capacity, supplier-business mentorship, and supplier engagement, many of which are women-specific initiatives. In 2021, Citigroup spent $172M with Tier 1 Women-Owned Suppliers. In 2020, Citi set a goal to increase spending with certified diverse suppliers to $1 billion annually.
Accenture: Ranked 1st in Commercial Support Services Industry, 4th overall
Accenture provides detailed disclosure of women representation across its operations and at varied levels within the organization. With women representing 50% of the board of directors, and 47% of their workforce, Accenture stands out as the only company in its industry with Board parity by gender.
Accenture leverages its supply chain to support its efforts to achieve gender parity. In FY21, it spent $95,194 with women-owned suppliers – about 18% of its total diverse supplier spending. Accenture is also invested in supplier success, and it outlines global efforts to engage and support women suppliers.
General Mills: Ranked 7th in Food, Beverage, & Tobacco Industry, 204th overall
General Mills discloses high women board representation for its industry at 45%, and clearly discloses 50% workforce representation for women. It also provides a disaggregated view of women’s representation at multiple levels of seniority (Officer, Director, Manager, etc.) throughout the company.
It has disclosed spending of $122.9M on women-owned suppliers and has set time bound targets and goals to increase diverse supplier spending. Importantly, General Mills is focused on increasing certification for diverse suppliers through funding and consulting support. This process can be laborious and expensive and is important in consideration of problems with access to capital often faced by women and minority-owned businesses.
The Hartford Financial Services Group: Ranked 2nd in Insurance Industry, 32nd Overall
The Hartford clearly discloses board women representation at 40%, a standout in the insurance industry. Workforce representation is not unusual in the industry, but is disclosed at 61% women. It has also disclosed spending $15M with women-owned suppliers and provided an update on their pay equity goals.
The Hartford has robust supplier practices, including engagement with diverse suppliers to increase bid success rate, transparent disclosure of supplier industries, and disaggregated supplier categories and the spend associated. The level of detail allows them to estimate job multipliers to track direct and indirect job creation and impact in communities.
While these four companies stood out within their industries in terms of gender diversity, companies should do more to illustrate their commitment to closing the gap in women representation in boards, the workforce, and supply chains. We wanted to call special attention to the subject of diverse supplier spending. Each of the four companies demonstrated the following areas as best practices:
1. What and how much. Disclose how much spend is attached to each category of diverse supplier (e.g., women, veteran, minority, small/local business), Supplier Tier, and an overall Supplier Spend Amount. See Accenture, General Mills (page 54).
2. Community impact. Track supplier industry to estimate local impact factors and demonstrate community impact, as well as support of high and low wage industries. See The Hartford.
3. Equitable engagement. Detail a supplier engagement strategy that is easy to understand, and reduces certification cost pressures on suppliers who often have access to less capital, such as women-owned businesses. See Citi and General Mills (page 54).
4. Progress evaluation roadmap. Set milestones, and evaluate progress frequently and clearly with planned and easy to follow updates on progress and challenges to reaching goals. See Citi.
Additionally, we found that many of those leading their industry rankings were well positioned to demonstrate best practices to their peers in disclosure practices. Of the 54 companies that disclosed their spending on women-owned businesses, 69% ranked in the top 10 in their respective industry rankings.
Women’s representation in business leadership and the country’s overall workforce is an important issue to the American public. To demonstrate their commitment, more companies should go beyond public statements and select statistics, and demonstrate leadership through action, follow-through, and greater transparency through reporting.
To unpack your company’s gender equity performance in the 2023 Rankings and gain insights into how to improve on the issues that matter most to the American public, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
JUST Capital also recently established the Corporate Care Network to help drive increased access to care benefits, including paid family and medical leave and flexible work policies. To get involved in the Network, please reach out to email@example.com, and explore some of our recent reports here:
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