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Boardroom diversity has never been more topical. Or more scrutinized. Whether driven by cultural norms, state regulations, listing exchange requirements and/or ESG credibility, stakeholders of all forms are taking a closer and more personal interest in the composition of boards.

While studies have shown that a more diverse board can lead to improved business performance, our research—supported by PitchBook data—suggests that CEOs, founders and investors within the startup ecosystem have not made boardroom diversity a visible priority.

This report is one of the first of its kind. It highlights the current state of gender diversity within startup boardrooms; how those companies have reacted to various legal, regulatory and cultural pressures; and how the industry can progress from here.


Percentage of all new board appointments at startups that have been women, YTD 2021. That is half the rate of public companies.


Average company age in years for startups adding their first female board director. In 2015, the average age was less than 3.

What can startups do to improve gender diversity on their boards?

They need to bring corporate governance to the forefront. Governance should not be treated as an afterthought or merely something that is required by law. It should be a crucial part of every startup’s business plan – and something that is constantly evolving. Timing matters, too. The sooner a startup can address board diversity, the better. Some actions leaders can take are outlined in the report.

At J.P. Morgan, we are committed to all forms of diversity. We know that an inclusive environment leads to improved business decisions and a better bottom line, and it helps us reflect the communities we serve. But more importantly, we believe in diversity for one simple reason: It’s the right thing to do.