A State by State Review: Gender Diversity in the Executive Suite

I’d confidently say that most CEOs and Boards would be happy if they could point to these results consistently at quarterly board meetings:

     – Better financial performance
     – Higher return on sales
     – Higher return on equity
     – Higher operating results
     – Lower corporate fraud
     – Increased collective intelligence
     – Increased innovation
     – Reduced conflict

There are all kinds of critical levers that can be pulled to drive these results – better hiring and training, better technology, great data to make smarter decisions, new markets to explore, new products to launch, and investment in M&A, to name a few. But one factor has been proven to impact all of them positively: gender diversity – especially at the executive level. This graphical representation from Catalyst does a fantastic job of synthesizing the enormous amounts of completed research that illustrate why diversity matters to the bottom line.

Our mission at DiscoverOrg is to power our customers’ growth. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of a company that provides the best sales intelligence on the planet to help sales and marketing teams generate more revenue – a company that also uses the incredible wealth of data we have on organizations across the globe to contribute to the broader dialogue about the impact of diversity on corporate growth.

Our latest research focused on gender diversity in the executive suite through a new filter: geography. How do the states stack up?

First, let’s start with the basics. The research, conducted earlier this month, surveyed almost 45,000 executives within the DiscoverOrg database; executives were defined as the CEO and any senior leader that reports to the CEO. The national average results showed that 24.8% of all executives are female.

So which states rise to the top?

Top 5 States Highest Percentage Female Executives
The top five states for gender diversity in the executive suite are:

  • Montana (40.9%)
  • District of Columbia (38.2%)
  • Vermont (38.0%)
  • Alaska (33.3%
  • Delaware (33.3%)

Which ones have the farthest to go?

Bottom 5 States Lowest Percentage Female Executives

The five states with the least gender parity are:

  • Utah (17.0%)
  • West Virginia (17.2%)
  • Kentucky (18.0%)
  • Oklahoma (19.0%)
  • Texas (19.7%) – As a native Texan, OUCH.

The political dialogue right now has puts gender issues front and center. But this data tells a somewhat surprising story and makes it clear that we can’t assume alignment between the phrases “progressive” and “diversity in the C-Suite.

The research shows that the deep-red state of Montana has the highest percentage of women in the executive suite than any other state. Alaska, also a politically conservative state (and possessing the highest male population, at 52%), is also in the top three. At the same time, blue states California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey show percentages of female senior executives well below the national mean, with averages of 21.4%, 20.7% and 20%, respectively.

Interested in the breakdown of Gender Diversity in Sales Roles? Download the DiscoverOrg’s 2016 Gender Diversity In Sales Organizations Report.

Additionally, interesting results appear when looking at the states by region: Despite a relatively poor showing by Massachusetts and Connecticut, the best-performing U.S. region was New England (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT), posting an average of 28.3%. Meanwhile, New Mexico’s above-average performance of 25% women in the executive suite wasn’t enough to offset the below-average performance of the other states in the Southwest: Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona were all part of the 10 worst-performing states, at 19.0%, 19.7% and 20.9%, respectively.

Percentage Female Executives by USA State

A complete list of U.S. regions, by rank:

  • New England (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT) – 28.3%
  • Rocky Mountains (MT, ID, WY, UT and CO) – 26.7%
  • Mid-Atlantic (NY, PA, MD, DE, NJ and DC) – 26.6%
  • Far West (WA, OR, CA, NV, HI, AK) – 25.5%
  • Southeast (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, FL, NC, SC, TN, KY, WV, VA) – 23.6%
  • Great Lakes (WI, IL, MI, IN, OH) – 23.5%
  • Plains (ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA, MO) – 23.4%
  • Southwest (AZ, NM, OK, TX) – 21.1%

So what now?

Peggy Hazard, managing principal at Korn Ferry, responding to research conducted for the top 1000 U.S. companies by revenue by noting, “This is a joint responsibility of the women to seek out experiences and development that can help them lead and succeed, and for organizations to create an environment where women feel empowered to progress in their careers at all levels.”

In next month’s diversity series, we will dive into our diversity results by role and function. The good news: At least one executive suite role has more women than men. The bad news? … It’s just one.

Catch us next month for more gender diversity insights.

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Katie Bullard

As Chief Growth Officer (CGO), Katie brings 15 years of marketing, product, and strategy experience in global, ..read more

  • Brian Olis

    Hard data doesn’t lie. Sadly, there are a lot of people that pay lip service to a cause for political reasons while doing nothing to make a difference. We also need to realize that true diversity includes diversity in thought and opinion. It’s entirely possible to look physically diverse while eliminating opposing viewpoints – which defeats the purpose.

  • Kristen

    Wow! Really interesting to see the state-by-state breakdown. Good, hard facts.