Skip to Main Content

S&P 500 Board Trends 2019

Highlights from the 2019 United States Spencer Stuart Board Index.

The 2019 U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index finds that boards are heeding the growing calls from shareholders and other stakeholders to enhance boardroom diversity in terms of gender, age, race/ethnicity and professional backgrounds. The 492 S&P 500 boards included in the index added 432 independent directors over the past year, the most since 2004. A record-breaking 59% of new directors are diverse (defined as women and minority men), up from half last year. Women constitute 46% of the new class of directors, and minority men, 13%. Women now represent 26% of all S&P 500 directors, a new milestone.

In addition to looking at trends in board composition, the index also examines director compensation and governance practices. Among the noteworthy findings, 71% of S&P 500 boards disclose a mandatory retirement age for directors, and 46% of those set the age at 75 or older, compared with 44% last year and just 15% a decade ago. Nearly all boards in the index report conducting an annual board assessment, and 44% report having some form of individual director evaluation, up from 38% last year and 22% in 2009.

— denotes a significant change from prior years.

New independent directors

432

New independent directors

2018: 428
2014: 371
2009: 333

8%

% among all directors

2018: 8%
2014: 7%
2009: 6%

57.5

Average age

2018: 57.2
2014: 57.6
2009: 56.5


Who are the new independent directors?

2019 2018 2014 2009
Women

46% 

40%

30%

17%

Minority1

23% 

19%

12%

12%

First-time2

27%

33%

39%

16%

Next-generation (50 and younger)

16%

17%

Data not available

Data not available

 

1 Minorities are defined as African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino or Asian. Individuals of Indian descent have been counted as Asian, which is consistent with U.S. Census Bureau methodology.

2 The decline in first-time directors is due to a change in methodology in 2018. In prior years, CEOs who served on their own boards but were serving on their first independent or outside board role were counted as first-time directors.

diverse directors3 among new independent, first-time and next-generation directors

59%

of new independent directors are diverse

74%

of first-time directors are diverse

69%

of next-generation directors are diverse

3 Defined as women and minority men.

women directors among new independent directors

10%

of new independent directors are minority women

16%

of new independent directors are first-time women directors

9%

of new independent directors are next-generation women


Industry destinations for new independent directors

top industry destinations for:

Women directors

19% Consumer discretionary
14% Information technology
11% Industrials

First-time directors

17% Consumer discretionary
14% Information technology
12% Healthcare

Next-generation directors

28% Consumer discretionary
19% Information technology
9% Industrials


New independent director professional backgrounds

Retired CEOs
15%
Active CEOs
15%
Line and functional leaders
14%
Financial executives / CFOs / treasurers
10%
Investment management / investors
9%
Division / subsidiary presidents
9%
Others
6%
Bankers / investment bankers
5%
Academics / nonprofits
4%
Active chairs / presidents / COOs
3%
Consultants
3%
Public accounting executives
3%
Retired chairs / presidents / COOs
2%
General Counsels
1%
Lawyers
1%

New independent director industry backgrounds

Technology / telecommunications
17%
Consumer goods & services
16%
Financial services
10%
Private Equity / investment management
10%
Healthcare / pharmaceuticals
9%
Industrial / manufacturing
8%
Energy / utilities / oil & gas
7%
Transportation products & services
4%
Academics / nonprofit
3%
Public accounting
3%
Consultants
3%
Media / entertainment / publishing
2%
Government / military
2%
Professional services
2%
Real estate construction & services
1%
Conglomerate / holding company
1%
Law firms
1%

All directors

5,254

Total directors

62.7

Average age

10.7

Average board size


Board service

2.1

Average number of boards S&P 500 directors serve on

59%

S&P 500 CEOs serve on no outside boards


Women directors

 26%

Representation of women among all directors

 85

Boards that expanded to add a female director (on a net basis after independent director departures)

women in leadership roles

24%

Committee chairs4

5%

Independent chairs

10%

Lead directors

4 Audit, compensation, nominating committee types.


Refreshment practices

 71%

Boards with a mandatory retirement age

 46%

Boards with retirement policies set the retirement age at 75 or older

 78%

Independent directors who left S&P 500 boards in the past year served on boards with mandatory retirement ages

board evaluation types (among boards reporting some form of evaluation)

2019 2018 2014 2009
Full board, committees and directors

42%

35%

34%

17%

Full board and committees

49%

54%

51%

50%

Full board and directors

2%

3%

4%

5%

Full board

7%

8%

11%

28%

Related Insights