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Some gains, some losses for women in Md. boardrooms

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While the number of women holding seats on the boards of Maryland companies increased in 2014, a new survey finds the state still lags behind the national average and has an increasing number of companies with no female directors.

“They’re mixed results,” said Ellen R. Fish, executive vice president of Hamilton Bank. Fish compiled the data for the 2015 Census of Women Board Directors in Maryland published Tuesday by Network 2000, a nonprofit that promotes women in business.

Of the 77 companies traded on the major stock exchanges that are headquartered in Maryland, 90 board seats, or 14.2 percent, are held by women; that figure stood at 13.3 percent in 2013 and 10.7 percent in 2012.

The national average is 19.2 percent, according to the report.

The total number of board seats in Maryland dropped from 646 to 634 in 2014; that number was 715 in 2011. The number of women of color serving in Maryland’s boardrooms dropped from 15 to 13 in the past years, according to the report.

The number of companies with no women on their boards rose from 22 to 24, or 31.2 percent; that’s higher than the national average of 3.6 percent, according to the report.

Companies with no women on their board or in their executive suite increased from 15 to 17 in 2014, the first increase in three years, according to the report.

Part of that may be explained by the large number of science- and technology-based companies in Maryland, Fish said. While a large percentage of women hold advanced degrees in these areas, they tend to go into higher education rather than the corporate sector, she said.

One of Network 2000’s goals is to encourage companies to increase transparency in their efforts to improve diversity, such as by tying compensation for some employees to diversity goals within their departments, Fish said.

Network 2000 has called for 20 percent of Maryland board members to be women by 2020, an increase of 37 female board members.

The organization is preparing to release a strategic plan to meet that goal within the next two months, said Janine DePaula Stevens, the organization’s president.

The organization is also monitoring the effectiveness of quotas for women directors that have been established in countries such as Germany, which recently required that its largest companies require 30 percent of their supervisory boards to be women.

Network 2000 does not specifically endorse quotas, but outlines some arguments for and against them in its new report.  While research has shown that quotas increase the number of women on corporate boards and in their executive suites, it also can result in less-qualified people being appointed to boards, in dysfunction within boardrooms and in discrimination against other minority groups, according to the report.

The 2015 survey also includes an “honor roll” of companies where women comprise 20 percent or more of their board members as well as their executive team. Those companies include:

– The Adams Express Company

– Chindex International, Inc.

– Federal Realty Investment Trust

– First United Corporation

– Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc.

– Howard Bancorp, Inc.

– The KEYW Holding Corp.

– Lockheed Martin Corporation

– Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc.

– Petroleum & Resources Corporation

– Synutra International, Inc.

Patricia McHugh Lambert, principal at Pessin Katz Law P.A. in Towson, attended the Network 2000 forum Tuesday at which the survey data was released. She couldn’t decide how she should feel about the results of this year’s census; while the positives were encouraging, there was also a lot more work to do, Lambert said.

Diversity on company boards is healthy, and provides a wider range of perspectives and ideas, said Dave Hartman, president of Hartman Executive Advisors, who also attended the forum.

“If you have eight board members, all with different networks and different backgrounds … that just broadens the entire network of the company,” Hartman said. “I think it’s good for women, but it’s also good for business.”

The report also included a list of Maryland companies with no women in either their boardrooms or their executive suites in 2014. Those companies are:

– Bay Bancorp, Inc.

– Broadsoft, Inc.

– Chesapeake Lodging Trust

– Discovery Communications, Inc.

– First Potomac Realty Trust

– Gen Vec, Inc.

– India Globalization Capital, Inc.

– Novavax, Inc.

– Rexhan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

– Saul Centers, Inc.

– Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

– Synthetics Biologics, Inc.

– Tessco Technologies, Inc.

– TeleCommunication Systems, Inc.

– Universal Security Instruments, Inc.

– U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc.