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Credit: Lucia Huo

On Sept. 30, California became the first state to ban all-male corporate boards. In Philadelphia, female representation on the highest leadership boards of corporations is gradually increasing, but not at a rate that suggests it will soon follow in California's footsteps. 

In California, publicly held corporations headquartered in the state must have at least one female board director by the end of 2019 and three female board members by the end of 2021. Companies that fail to comply with these regulations will face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, the LA Times reported.  

The decision will ensure female representation in the state's various businesses — an issue that Philadelphia continues to struggle with.  

In 2017, the number of women holding board seats in Philadelphia-based companies reached 17 percent — just one percent higher than the previous year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In that same year, just 15 percent of top-level executives in Philadelphia-based companies were female, and out of 100 Philadelphia companies, 18 did not have a single woman on their boards. 

The Women in Leadership annual report presented at the Forum of Executive Women on Oct. 17 also showed slow progress. From 2010 to 2017, companies with no female top earners decreased from 66 to 60, while the percentage of female top earners increased from nine to 10 percent. 

Credit: Georgia Ray

During this same time frame, the percentage of board seats held by women increased from 11 to 17 percent and the number of companies with no female directors decreased from 41 to 18, though overall, 43 percent of the 100 largest public companies in the area have all-male leadership teams — the same as 2016.

The report also recognized twelve companies as Champions of Board Diversity for having 30 percent or more women on their boards. These included Urban Outfitters, Navient, Axalta Coating Systems, Campbell Soup, and CubeSmart.

Jennifer Morgan, the first female American president of the Americas and Asia Pacific Japan for German software company SAP, is the only Philadelphia executive to be named to Fortune’s 2018 Most Powerful Women list.

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