Women Hold Only 16 Percent of Board Seats at Philadelphia Companies

Things are moving very slowly for women looking to enter the region's C-suites, a new study finds.

Shot of a group of businesswomen using a laptop during a meeting at work. iAJ_Watt | istock.

Women in the Philadelphia region hold more executive positions than ever before, but overall their representation in the C-suite is still quite small and progress is very slow.

These findings were published in The Forum of Executive Women’s new 2017 Women in Leadership report. The report looked at the region’s top 100 public companies to assess the gender composition of each organization’s board of directors, senior executives and top earners for 2016. The Forum collaborated with the Philadelphia office of PwC to conduct the research. 

“The report was developed to raise awareness, stimulate thought-provoking discussion, and compel local business leaders to take action to increase the number of women in leadership roles throughout the region,” said Deanna M. Byrne, a Forum member and managing partner in PwC’s Philadelphia office.

Here are a few takeaways from the report:

  • Little advancement for women ons boards and in executive positions.
    In 2016, there were a total of 870 board seats available and only 16 percent (136) were held by women. This is a minor increase from the 11 percent figure women held in 2011 (94 seats). Meanwhile, female executives in the region saw similar growth from 11 percent to 15 percent during the same time period.
  • Sharp drop in the number of women getting open board seats.
    In 2016, there were 76 board openings and only 17 percent of those went to women. This is a big decrease compared to the 33 percent of 60 board openings that went to women in 2015.
  • Five regional companies with female CEOs.
    Of the top 100 companies in the report, only five have female CEOs. The companies are American Water Works Co. Inc., Artesian Resources Corp, Campbell Soup Co., Recro Pharma, Inc., and Nutrisystem, Inc.
  • Some industries are doing better than others.
    The report breaks down women in corporate leadership by industry. The numbers show that the communications, construction, and utilities industries value women in leadership the most. Twelve companies fell into that category. Their boards are 20 percent female, their executive teams are 22 percent female, and 19 percent of women in the industries are top earners. By comparison, the services industry, which consists of 15 companies, only had 10 percent female directors, 11 percent female executives, and 10 percent female top earners.
  • A lack of female top earners.
    Only 11 percent of women in the region are top earners at their companies. There are currently 57 companies in the region with no female top earners.
  • “No-to-yes” companies on the rise.
    These companies are described as companies that previously had no women on their boards. In 2015, there were 36 companies with zero women on their boards, but in 2016 there are 19. Some no-to-yes companies are EPAM Systems Inc., Republic First Bancorp Inc., Teligent Inc., and Trinseo SA.


Jared Peterman is an intern at Philadelphia magazine.