Corporate Hawai‘i: More Women on Board?

Mar 8, 2019

Downtown Honolulu
Credit ErgoSum88 / Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

The presence of women on corporate boards has been gaining ground nationally in recent years. It’s also growing in Hawai‘i. But in both cases, their representation on the boards of publicly-held companies still remains relatively small.

Nationally, the number of board seats held by women has grown nearly 42 percent over the past five years. In 2014, 11 percent of the directors of just over 1,800 public companies nationwide were women. As of February, it’s 15 percent.

Locally, just over 17 percent of board seats are held by women. That’s 22 out of 127 directors at 11 publicly traded companies based in Hawaii. The absolute number of women directors is smaller, at 17. That’s because three women hold seats on more than one board.

Constance Lau is one of them. She’s on four boards: Hawaiian Electric Industries, HECO, American Savings Bank and Matson/ Attorney Crystal Rose, of Bay Lung Rose & Holma, is on the boards governing Central Pacific Bank and Hawaiian Airlines. Jenai Wall, chair and CEO of Foodland, is on the boards of Alexander & Baldwin and First Hawaiian Bank.

Barbara Tanabe, who sits on the board of Bank of Hawaii, tells PBN, “Because there is a lack of publicly traded companies here it’s very difficult to gauge the trend or success of women on boards. However, Hawaii companies do quite well with women representation.”