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Boardrooms at Jabil, Raymond James increasingly have female perspectives

Margie Manning

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Women increasingly are breaking through the glass ceiling in the corporate boardroom, according to new report from a national organization focused on increasing the presence of women on corporate boards.

Two of the largest companies in St. Petersburg are contributing to the gains.

Jabil (NYSE: JBL) and Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF) each added an additional woman to their boards of directors in 2019. At Jabil, a manufacturing services business, women now make up 30 percent of the board while financial services firm Raymond James has a board that is 25 percent female.

Both are well above the 20 percent goal set several years ago by 2020 Women on Boards, a Los Angeles-based education and advocacy campaign. The organization just released its 2020 Gender Diversity Index, and found that for the first time in history, women hold 22.6 percent of the board seats among the nation’s largest publicly traded companies in the Russell 3000 Index.

That’s a 2.2 percentage increase from 20.4 percent of women directors in 2019, and a 6.5 percentage increase over four years.

One-third of the Russell 3000, or 1,064 companies, still have only one or no women on their boards, the organization said.

Gender diversity is good for business, 2020 Women on Boards said, citing independent research studies that show public corporations with women on their boards out-perform boards with only men, as measured by profitability, productivity and workforce engagement.

2020 Women on Boards compiled its Gender Diversity Index from each company’s most recent proxy, an annual report to shareholders on corporate governance.

The local company with the largest percentage of women on its board is Welbilt (NYSE: WBT), a commercial food equipment manufacturer in New Port Richey. Three of the seven board members, or 43 percent of the board members, are women, and Welbilt is the only area company with a female board chairman, Cynthia Egnotovich.

Research shows that women need to hold at least three board seats to create a “critical mass,” which can lead to better financial performance, according to the 2018 Global Board Diversity Tracker.

Just one local company has no women on its board. United Insurance Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: UIHC), a property and casualty insurer in St. Petersburg, has a 10-member, all-male board of directors.

Here’s a look at the board composition, by gender, of local companies in the 2020 Women on Boards list, based on their most recent proxy statements.

Women made up 19.7 percent of the board members at 111 Russell 3000 companies in Florida, up from 19.1 percent a year ago. Of the 25 states with more than 20 companies on the Russell 3000, Florida and Utah are the only two states that don’t have at least 20 percent female board members.

2020 Women on Boards has updated its searchable database of gender diversity on corporate boards. See the full list here.

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