In a follow-up study produced through a collaboration between Him For Her and Crunchbase, analysis on the board composition of some of the most heavily funded private companies points to modest progress in terms of gender diversity.

The group’s first benchmarking study to look at gender diversity on the boards of the most heavily funded U.S.-based private venture-backed companies was conducted in 2019. Using those findings as a baseline, they updated the study for 2020, this time including a preliminary look at racial diversity as well.

Key findings around gender diversity:

  • In 2020, 49% of companies did not have a woman on the board, an improvement from 60% a year earlier;
  • Women held 11% of board seats, up from 7%.
  • Executives and investors compose 75% of director seats (down from 80%), of which 8% are held by women (up from less than 5%).
  • Woman directors remain most likely to hold an independent seat on the board: Their share of those seats remains relatively unchanged at 20% (from 19%).
  • Among the roughly half of boards that include any women, 66% include just one woman. While that’s an improvement from 76% in last year’s study, most women board members remain the only woman in the boardroom. 

Initial findings around racial and ethnic diversity:

  • Only 3% of board seats were held by women of color, compared with an estimated 18% held by men of color.
  • 81% of companies don’t have a woman of color on the board at all.

Observations drawn from the study include:

  • At the current rate of change, we can’t expect to see a woman on the board of every later-stage private company until 2025, and gender parity is a full decade away.
  • Efforts to address gender diversity need to include a commitment to women of color. 
  • Independent board seats offer the most immediate opportunity to increase board diversity, and anecdotal evidence suggests a growing commitment to appointing independents at an earlier stage and with a preference for demographic diversity.