These billion-dollar companies still have zero women on their boards

These billion-dollar companies still have zero women on their boards
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

One of the few things rarer than a unicorn company is one with a woman on its board.

In March 2015, Fortune listed the 33 U.S. unicorns — private firms valued at more than $1 billion — with an all-male board of directors. This list included behemoths like Airbnb, Snapchat, Tinder, Uber and WeWork. At the time, those 33 companies comprised 60% of the country's unicorns.

What do these billion-dollar companies look like today? In the 20 months since the original report, the progress is largely nonexistent. Out of the 33 companies Fortune listed, eight companies added a woman (yes, just one) to their board. Twenty-two companies remain 100% male. At least three companies added no women at all, but added more men instead.

Our list uses the most up-to-date information available.

Why diversity matters

A company's directors act as representatives of the stockholders. They help make decisions that affect corporate policy and company issues. These responsibilities help shape the future of the company. 

It's no secret by now that diverse leadership can bring companies immeasurable benefits beyond simple representation. "Having women on boards improves corporate performance," said Leslie Grossblatt, COO of TheBoardlist, an online marketplace aimed at connecting businesses with qualified women to add to their boards. She pointed to a 2011 Catalyst report that demonstrated that companies with at least three or more female board members in at least four out of five years "significantly outperformed" companies with a sustained low representation of women. In short: more women, more money.

22 companies still have an all-male board

22 companies still have an all-male board
Source: 
Mic

Actifio

Valuation: $1.1 billion as of March 2014

The information technology firm has seven board members, according to its website.

Airbnb

Valuation: $30 billion as of August 2016

Airbnb, which recently faced a racial discrimination lawsuit, has five board members, including the three (male) founders and two other men. While the company's leadership roles have seen an increase in women, the composition of the board has remained largely unchanged.

"We have doubled the number of women in senior leadership positions and increased the number of women in technical roles — from 22% to 26%," an Airbnb spokesperson said in an email. "We have more work to do to diversify our teams, and we've instituted a Diversity Rule, a new Airbnb policy that will mandate that all candidate pools for senior-level positions include women and candidates from underrepresented backgrounds."

AppDynamics

Valuation: $1.9 billion as of June 2016

The application performance management company holds strong with 12 men (and no women) on its board.

Automattic

Valuation: $1.16 billion as of May 2014

According to a Bloomberg report, the online publishing platform has four men on its board.

Bloom Energy

Valuation: Once valued at $2.9 billion, but recently filed to go public under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which is applicable to companies with less than $1 billion in revenue

The alternative energy company has a board comprising seven men, according to its website.

Credit Karma

Valuation: $3.5 billion as of June 2015

According to a report from Bloomberg, there are three men on Credit Karma's board.

Deem

Valuation: $1.56 billion as of April 2016

Deem, a company developing software solutions for business travel, has three men on its board, according to its website.

Evernote

Valuation: $1 billion as of June 2015

The productivity platform's board is exclusively male, a spokesperson said in an email. Evernote did not disclose the number of board members.

The spokesperson said its all-male board is "not a representative statement of either our overall workforce, which is quite diverse, nor any intentional makeup. ... Earlier this year, we redoubled our efforts to ensure a diverse, inclusive workforce under the leadership of our head of people, Michelle Wagner."

Fanatics

Valuation: $3.1 billion as of July 2016

The online sports retailer currently has two men on the board, but a spokesperson for the company said that the company is planning to announce a female independent director joining the board early next year. Fanatics has two other independent directors, one of whom is Iranian-American, according to the spokesperson.

Instacart

Valuation: $2 billion as of March 2016

Rebecca Silliman, a senior director at Instacart — a web-based grocery delivery service — said that there are no women on its board of directors. There are four men on the board.

JustFab

Valuation: $1 billion as of August 2014

JustFab didn't respond to a request for the number of women and men currently sitting on its board of directors. According to Crunchbase, the board is two men. According to a BuzzFeed article from September 2015, JustFab doesn't publicly disclose information on its board, but press releases indicated it is made up of exclusively men.

Lookout

Valuation: $1.38 billion as of December 2014

According to the mobile security company's website, its board comprises eight men.

Magic Leap

Valuation: $4.5 billion as of March 2016

This augmented-reality startup is as tight-lipped about its technology as it is about its board of directors. Magic Leap didn't respond to our request for comment, but Bloomberg reports that its board is made up of three men.

MediaMath

Valuation: $1.07 billion as of June 2014

The marketing software company has five men and no women on its board, per its website.

MongoDB

Valuation: $1.53 billion as of May 2016

Software company MongoDB has eight men and no women on its board.

"Diversity is an important part of MongoDB's culture, and we are strongly committed to employing not only females but people from all backgrounds, races, ethnicities and gender identities," Dev Ittycheria, president and CEO of MongoDB, said in an email. "While we do have several women in top leadership positions across engineering, sales, marketing and operational roles, at this time we do not have any female members on the board. However, this is something we keep in mind when adding talent at the board level and across the company."

Nutanix

Valuation: $2.2 billion as of September 2016

Enterprise cloud company Nutanix has seven men and no women on its board of directors, according to its website.

Palantir

Valuation: $20 billion as of December 2015

According to Crunchbase and a Wall Street Journal article from October 2015, Palantir has four men on its board of directors, including tech billionaire Peter Thiel who also co-founded the company. The U.S. Department of Labor recently filed a lawsuit against Palantir for alleged discrimination in hiring practices.

Pluralsight

Valuation: $1 billion as of August 2014

In June, the online education company added four men to its board of directors, totaling six men total, according to Crunchbase.

Razer

Valuation: $1.5 billion as of February 2016

Major gaming company Razer, per its website, has a board with two men. Razer was the recent subject of controversy after sending a tweet apparently telling Apple to "S" its "D."

Slack

Valuation: $3.8 billion as of April 2016

The team chat app, according to Bloomberg, has a board of five men. Slack acknowledged that it still had an all-male board in its latest diversity report, released February 2016.

"We also recognize that we do not yet have a woman or person of color from an underrepresented group on our board of directors. When we begin to add outside directors, addressing this will be an important priority."

Stripe

Valuation: $5 billion as of July 2015

According to Crunchbase, the internet-based payment platform has three men on its board.

WeWork

Valuation: $16 billion as of March 2016

There is very little information on WeWork's current board of directors. Bloomberg doesn't have any names listed, and according to Crunchbase, WeWork's board is made up of one man, Michael Eisenberg.

8 companies have added a woman — just one — to their board of directors

8 companies have added a woman to their board of directors
Source: 
Mic

Legendary Entertainment

Valuation: Acquired this year for $3.5 billion

In May 2015, Variety reported that the media company added one woman — Jackie Robinson Foundation CEO-president Della Britton Baeza — to its board of directors, which also includes six men. Legendary Entertainment was acquired by Chinese multinational conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in January 2016.

Moderna Therapeutics

Valuation: $3 billion as of January 2015

A spokesperson for the biotechnology company said that it added a woman to its board of directors in December 2015, totaling one woman and seven men.

"Beyond these recent key appointments, we are doing a great deal to strengthen our internal pipeline of female leaders, including expanding the activities of our Women's Network, as well as enhancing opportunities for development and mentoring for our emerging female leaders," the spokesperson said. "Currently over 40% of our employee base is women."

Pinterest

Valuation: $11 billion as of January 2016

Pinterest added one woman to its board of directors this year, a spokesperson said in an email. The board is rounded out by three men.

"This year we implemented a Rooney Rule-type requirement where at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate is interviewed for every open leadership position," the spokesperson said. She added: "Our latest diversity numbers were shared earlier this year, with 16% women in leadership roles. We're not yet where we want to be, but we believe inclusive hiring is fundamental to company growth, and we're committed to continuing to diversify the company and leadership."

Pure Storage

Valuation: $3.1 billion as of October 2015

The storage management company has seven men and one woman on its board, a spokesperson said in an email, pointing to the company's leadership site.

Qualtrics

Valuation: $1 billion as of September 2014

The software company added a woman to its board in April 2016, according to a press release.

Snap, Inc.

Valuation: $20 billion as of May 2016

The rebranded Snapchat corporation wouldn't publicly disclose information on its board, but a recent report from TechCrunch indicated that with the addition of Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles to its board in January 2016, Snap's board is now composed of one woman and four men.

Tango

Valuation: Over $1 billion as of February 2016

The messaging company has one woman and three men on its board, according to Crunchbase.

Uber

Valuation: $68 billion as of June 2016

As of August 2016, Uber had seven board members, including Arianna Huffington, the Wall Street Journal reported. Based on a report from Bloomberg, Huffington is the only woman on Uber's board. Uber did not respond for comment.

Two companies have more than one woman on the board — because they were acquired

Two companies have more than one woman on the board — because they were acquired
Source: 
Mic

Jasper Technologies

Valuation: Acquired by Cisco this year for $1.4 billion

Jasper was acquired by Cisco in March 2016, so Jasper Technologies no longer has an independent board. Following the acquisition, Cisco's board is now four women and eight men, according to a spokesperson.

"We are committed to creating a culture that eliminates biases, encourages innovation, respects employees and drives customer success," a statement from Cisco reads. "That view extends to our board of directors."

Tinder

Valuation: $5 billion as of April 2014 when IAC bought another 10% of the company

Tinder is now part of parent company IAC, whose board, according to a spokesperson, includes "a number of women." Per IAC's board of directors site, the company has 10 men and two women on its board.

"Tinder is committed to improving diversity across all levels," said Rosette Pambakian, Tinder's vice president of global communications and branding. "Since our launch, we've promoted and hired a number of women to key leadership roles, and we're focused on continuing this growth moving forward."

Everyone else

There was no information on mobile ad platform InMobi's board of directors on Crunchbase or Bloomberg. The company pointed Mic to its management page, which doesn't list the board.

Magic Leap, Palantir and Pluralsight have all added more men (and no women) to their board of directors following the Fortune report.

Why is it so hard for some companies to diversify their leadership?

TheBoardlist's Leslie Grossblatt said that limited board turnover can lead to a lack of progress. The other problem: "small networks," and companies' inability to look beyond them.

"In our research, we found that only 4% of CEOs who searched for board members looked outside their own small networks of investors and referrals from the CEO and/or other board members," Grossblatt said.

Looking outside of small, privileged, homogenous circles is a smart strategy for tech companies, Slack engineer Leslie Miley told Mic last month.

"When you get to the C-suite, it's rarely somebody you don't know, or your board doesn't know or your venture capitalists don't know," Miley said. As a result, your recruitment pool "is going to look a lot like your social network, and your social network is going to look a lot like you. You're not going to get a diverse network. You're going to get what you've always got."

Tech companies have acknowledged the calls for diversity and gender parity and made some incremental progress — but this push is noticeably absent at the industry's highest levels.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Melanie Ehrenkranz

Melanie is a writer covering technology and the future. She can be reached at melanie@mic.com.

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