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2020 Spencer Stuart Industrial Sector Snapshot

In many respects boards of industrial companies in the S&P 500 index — defined as 97 companies in the materials and industrials primary sectors — are similar to S&P 500 boards.

  • The average age of independent directors on industrial boards is 63.1 years, compared to 63.0 years for S&P 500 boards.
  • The youngest industrial board averages 53.3 years of age, the oldest, 83.8.
  • Industrial boards average 10.4 directors, compared to 10.7 members on S&P 500 boards.
  • Independent directors represent 86% of all directors on industrial sector boards, compared with 85% of all S&P 500 directors.
  • The average board tenure of independent directors on industrial boards is 8.0 years, just below the 7.9 year average for the S&P 500 index.
  • The longest-tenured industrial board averages 35.5 years of board service.


Gender diversity of industrial boards slightly lags the S&P 500 universe, with women representing 27% of all industrial board members in 2020, compared to 28% of S&P 500 directors.

Every S&P 500 board has at least one female director. Ninety-five percent (95%) of the S&P 500 index have at least two female directors, and two-thirds (67%) of S&P 500 boards have three or more female directors. In contrast, just under 60% of the industrial boards have three or more women directors. Thirteen S&P 500 boards are composed of at least 50% women, including one industrial board.

Representation of Women Directors on Industrial Boards

When it comes to race/ethnic diversity of the boardroom, 18% of the directors of the 42 industrial companies in the top 200 companies are minorities (defined as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx and Asian), slightly below the 20% average for the S&P 500 index. The diversity breakdown of industrial boards generally matches the S&P 500: 11% Black/African American (compared to 10% of S&P 500 directors); 4% Hispanic/Latinx (compared to 4% S&P 500); and 3% Asian (compared to 5% S&P 500). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 40% of the U.S. population is estimated to be a minority, including 18.5% Hispanic/Latinx, 13.4% Black/African American, 5.9% Asian.

New independent director backgrounds

Fifty-five companies — 57% of the surveyed S&P 500 industrial companies — added at least one director over the past year. Appointees averaged 58.4 years of age, slightly higher than the 57.8 average for all independent directors joining S&P 500 boards. First-time directors represented 28% of directors joining industrial boards, matching the 28% overall average for the S&P 500.

Of the 87 directors joining industrial boards over the past year, 62% are diverse: 49% are women; 13% are minority men. The appointments slightly outpace the S&P 500, where 59% of the incoming 2020 class are diverse, including 47% women and 12% minority men.

Less than half (46%) of the directors joining industrial boards are actively employed, compared to 49% of independent directors joining S&P 500 boards. Compared to the S&P 500 incoming class of independent directors, industrial boards recruited in 2020 a higher percentage of leaders of divisions/subsidiaries and functional units and former government/military officials. Industrial boards appointed relatively fewer directors with financial experience.

2020 Industrials2020 S&P 500
Chairs / presidents / COOs7%6%
Line and functional leaders20%16%
Division / subsidiary presidents11%7%
Finance / accounting executives14%27%
Financial executives / CFOs / treasurers9%14%
Investment managers / investors3%8%
Bankers / investment bankers1%4%
Public accounting executives1%1%
Academics / nonprofit executives2%3%
Legal 1%2%
General counsel1%2%
Government / military10%5%

Board leadership

The chair and CEO roles are separated at 49% of industrial boards — lower than the 55% average for the S&P 500 index. Executive chairs are in place at 14% of industrial boards, compared to 13% for the S&P 500. Independent directors chair 33% of industrial boards (compared to 34% of the S&P 500), while 71% of industrial boards have an independent lead director (compared to 73% of the S&P 500).

Board organization and process

Compared to the S&P 500 index, more industrial boards have three-year terms (classified boards) and age limits for directors. Industrial board committees — number, size and meeting frequency — are similar to S&P 500 committees.

2020 Industrials 2020 S&P 500
Classified board13%10%
Board meetings (avg #)7.97.9
Board committees (avg #)44.2
Audit committee
Size (avg #)4.64.4
Meetings (avg #)7.98.2
Compensation committee
Size (avg #)4.64.3
Meetings (avg #)5.35.9
Nominating / governance committee
Size (avg #)4.74.4
Meetings (avg #)4.34.5
Mandatory retirement85%70%
Retirement age (avg)73.873.6

Editor's note: Data in tables and charts may not total 100% due to rounding.

Industrial Sector Companies

3M Company
A. O. Smith Corporation
Air Products & Chemicals
Alaska Air Group
Albemarle Corporation
Allegion Public Limited Company
American Airlines Group
Avery Dennison Corporation
Ball Corporation
C.H. Robinson Worldwide
Celanese Corporation
CF Industries Holdings
Cintas Corporation
CSX Corporation
Deere & Company
Delta Air Lines
Dover Corporation
DuPont de Nemours
Eastman Chemical Company
Eaton Corporation
Emerson Electric Company
Expeditors International of Washington
Fastenal Company
FedEx Corporation
Flowserve Corporation
FMC Corporation
Fortive Corporation
Fortune Brands Home & Security
General Dynamics Corporation
General Electric Company
Honeywell International
Howmet Aerospace
Huntington Ingalls Industries
IDEX Corporation
IHS Markit
Illinois Tool Works
International Flavors & Fragrances
International Paper Company
J.B. Hunt Transport Services
Jacobs Engineering Group
Johnson Controls International
Kansas City Southern
L3Harris Technologies
Linde plc
Lockheed Martin Corporation
LyondellBasell Industries N.V.
Martin Marietta Materials
Masco Corporation
Newmont Corporation
Nielsen Holdings plc
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Nucor Corporation
Old Dominion Freight Line
Packaging Corporation of America
Parker-Hannifin Corporation
Pentair plc
PPG Industries
Quanta Services
Republic Services
Robert Half International
Rockwell Automation
Roper Technologies
Sealed Air Corporation
Southwest Airlines Co.
Stanley Black & Decker
The Boeing Company
The Mosaic Company
The Sherwin-Williams Company
Trane Technologies
TransDigm Group
Union Pacific Corporation
United Airlines Holdings
United Parcel Service
United Rentals
Verisk Analytics
Vulcan Materials
W.W. Grainger
Wabtec Corporation
Waste Management
WestRock Company