When it comes to gender diversity on corporate boards, Tennessee falls short of the national average, but not by much.

Women hold 19.9% of the board seats at the 47 corporations headquartered in Tennessee on the Russell 3000 Index — below the national average of 20.4% — according to the latest Gender Diversity Index published by 2020 Women on Boards (2020WOB).

Tennessee companies, however, have steadily added women corporate directors to their boards since 2018 when women held 15.3% of board seats in the state, up from 14.9% in 2017. As of June 30, 2019, women directors at Tennessee companies held 86 of 432 seats, according to the GDI data.

At companies on both the 2018 and 2019 Russell 3000 lists, women corporate directors gained a total of 19 seats between July 2018 and June 2019, 12 more seats than women gained during the same time period the previous year. In order to add women directors, two thirds of the companies actually increased the number of seats on their boards. Still, seven of the Russell 3000 companies in Tennessee have no women on their boards as of June 2019, according to the Tuesday release.

The GDI also reveals that one Tennessee company achieved a gender balanced board in 2019 (an equal number of men and women corporate directors, or a difference of one more woman or man in the case of boards with an odd number of directors). Brookdale Senior Living Inc. has four women out of eight directors on its board, the release said.

Stephanie Sonnabend, Co-Founder and Chair of 2020WOB, said, “Tennessee companies took a major leap in the past year with more gender diverse boards, but of the 26 states with 20 or more companies on the Russell 3000, Tennessee ranks 18th in gender diversity. Over half of the Tennessee-based companies are at 20% or greater women directors, but 36% of the companies have one or no women on their boards.”

The most significant gains for women corporate directors at individual companies occurred at Brookdale Senior Living Inc., AutoZone Inc., Reliant Bancorp Inc. and Astec Industries Inc., which added two women each. An additional 12 companies added one woman.

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