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St. Pete insurer is an outlier when it comes to women on boards of directors

Margie Manning

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Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

A St. Petersburg property insurer lags other publicly traded companies in the Tampa-St. Pete area in gender diversity on the board of directors.

United Insurance Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: UIHC), which does business as UPC Insurance, is the only local company listed in the new 2020 Women on Boards index to have no female board members.

Among the 16 largest public companies headquartered in Tampa-St. Pete, women hold 26 percent of the total board seats. That’s above the national average, according to 2020 Women on Boards.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit set a goal several years ago to have women hold 20 percent of the board seats at companies in the Russell 3000 index.

In 2019, the organization achieved that goal. Women held 20.4 percent of the board seats at Russell 3000 companies across the United States as of last spring, when most companies had filed proxies containing corporate governance information. That’s an increase from 17.7 percent in 2018.

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.

Board members become more well-rounded executives when women serve on corporate boards and a gender diverse board can help companies maintain a positive workplace for women, the organization said.

Institutional Shareholder Services, a major proxy advisory firm, said earlier this month that it generally would recommend shareholders vote against or withhold votes for chairmen at companies with no women on the board of directors.

In Florida, women held 19.1 percent of the total board seats at Russell 3000 companies as of last spring, up from 17 percent a year ago.

There are 16 Tampa-St. Pete companies listed in the new 2020 WOB gender diversity index. Collectively women held 35 of the 133 board seats at those companies, or 26 percent.

But there’s a wide disparity between companies.

Bloomin’ Brands (Nasdaq: BLMN), the Tampa-based restaurant company whose brands include Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, had the highest female representation. Women held four of the eight Bloomin’ board seats last spring, or 50 percent, according to the company’s proxy. (Note: 2020WOB incorrectly said there were nine board seats at Bloomin’.)

Women made up 37.5 percent of the board at Welbilt (NYSE: WBT), a commercial food equipment manufacturer in New Port Richey. Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF), a financial services firm in St. Petersburg, had 13 board members, four of them women, for 31 percent female representation.

 

There have been a few changes since the 2020 WOB gender diversity index collected its data.

  • Mindy Grossman, the former CEO of HSN, resigned from the board at Bloomin’ Brands and David Deno, the new CEO of Bloomin’, joined the board, so the percent of female representation dropped to 37.5 percent.
  • The Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS), which produces and markets materials used in fertilizers, officially moved its corporate headquarters to Tampa in October. Three of the 12 members of Mosaic’s board, or 25 percent, are women.
  • Another corporate headquarters newcomer to Tampa is AutoWeb (NASDAQ: AUTO), a digital marketing firm for car dealers that relocated its principle executive office to Tampa in August. AutoWeb is too small for the Russell 3000, so it’s not on the 2020 WOB gender diversity index, but the company has one women on its eight-member board.
  • Apyx Medical (Nasdaq: APYX), a Clearwater-based medical technology firm that’s also too small for the Russell 3000, added its first woman director in August.
  • BRP Group (Nasdaq: BRP), an independent insurance distribution company in Tampa and the area’s newest public company after last month’s IPO, has no women among its five-member board.
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