FORTUNE -- Slooowww progress is the headline this morning from research group Catalyst, which released its annual gender report on Fortune 500 companies and boards.
Here are the key takeaways:
- 16.6% of Fortune 500 company directors are women, up from 16.1% last year.
- 14.3% of Fortune 500 company executive officers are women, up from 14.1% a year ago.
- 8.1% of top earners in the Fortune 500 are female. That's up from 7.5% in 2011.
You won't find much to inspire you in the Catalyst report. But one bright spot not noted there: The number of female Fortune 500 CEOs will hit a record 21 on January 1 when Phebe Novakovic takes charge at General Dynamics (GD).
And don't pop the champagne, but we now have two--two!--Fortune 500 companies that have more women than men in their executive officer rankings.
One is Ingredion, until this year known as Corn Products International. Ingredion's CEO is a woman. Ilene Gordon, the former chief of Alcan Packaging, took charge in 2009 and rebuilt Ingredion's product portfolio and leadership team. Five of the company's 11 top officers are now women. It's working. Revenue exceeded $6.2 billion last year and the stock has been outperforming the S&P since Gordon arrived. Ingredion (INGR) shares are up 27% in the past year.
The other company with more women than men at the top: Frontier Communications. CEO Maggie Wilderotter joined the telecom company, then known as Charter Communications, from Microsoft (MSFT) in 2004 and refashioned the board and the company's direction. Her market is rural telecom, which she has invested in aggressively by buying Verizon's (VRZN) rural assets. Wilderotter is a big player—on the boards of Procter & Gamble (PG) and Xerox (XRX)--and the sister of another Fortune 500 CEO, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup (CPB). But her own return to investors is disappointing: Frontier (FTR) shares are down almost 9% this year and 59% over five years.
Women are losing power in corporate America.
Besides the news that struggling Avon (AVP) is looking to replace Andrea Jung as CEO, there is Catalyst's annual census, released this morning, showing that women hold 14.1% of executive positions in Fortune 500 companies today, vs. 15.6% five years ago.
The trend isn't a good one, especially if you consider that companies with more women at the top tend to perform better financially, according MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 14, 2011 6:43 AM ET
Many of Fortune's Most Powerful Women -- a group we've tracked since 1998 -- contend that corporate America will have parity at the top someday.
No way, I say. It's not that the glass ceiling won't shatter. Indeed, this year's MPWomen list, released two months ago, has more Fortune 500 company CEOs in the top tier than ever. But as I've overseen the MPWomen franchise over the past decade, I've gotten MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 11, 2008 1:08 PM ET
by Jessica Shambora
No news isn't good news when it comes to counting women on Fortune 500 boards: Researchers at Catalyst, according to a study released today, have found that only 15.1% of Fortune 500 directors are female. That's only slightly better than last year's 14.8%.
Ah, but delve into this study and you find some interesting -- albeit depressing -- stuff. Can you believe that 68 companies have no women on MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Dec 10, 2008 4:52 PM ET
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