Watermark Finds Williams-Sonoma Inc., Zendesk and Yahoo Pave the Way for Gender Diversity in the Bay Area

Newly released Watermark Index, based on data from University of
California, Davis, highlights companies with 30 percent or more female

PALO ALTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A newly released study finds that Williams-Sonoma Inc., Zendesk and
Yahoo are among a select group of Bay Area companies paving the way for
gender diversity in corporate leadership. Those three companies, along
with eight others, make up the inaugural Watermark Index, which honors
Bay Area companies that support the advancement of women and promote
equal opportunity within their organizations.

– a leading Bay Area executive women’s organization – collaborated with
the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) to launch the Watermark
Index. Using data from its 2015-16
UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders
, the UC Davis
Graduate School of Management analyzed the 223 largest public companies
headquartered in the Bay Area and found that in 11 (4.9 percent) of the
companies, women hold 30 percent or more of the top-five compensated
executive positions and board seats.

“Silicon Valley, in the heart of the Bay Area, is a global hub of
innovation and a top destination for some of the world’s best talent,”
says Watermark CEO Marlene Williamson. “Our companies – some of the
largest in the world – have the opportunity to lead the rest of the
business community by example in advancing gender diversity within the
top ranks. The Watermark Index is designed to showcase those already
doing so.”

Among the study’s highlights:

  • Williams-Sonoma Inc. holds the top spot in gender diversity in the Bay
    Area with 57.1 percent, or almost double the 30 percent benchmark. In
    fact, William-Sonoma has the highest percentage among the largest
    public companies statewide.
  • Of the 11 companies that make up the inaugural Watermark Index, four
    are pharmaceutical companies and three are technology companies – both
    traditionally male-dominated industries.
  • From a revenue standpoint, companies on the Watermark Index
    outperformed other companies in the region by 49 percent – and
    companies in the state by 35 percent.

The full list of companies on the Watermark Index includes:

  • Arista Networks, Santa Clara
  • Genomic Health, Redwood City
  • Geron, Menlo Park
  • Intersect ENT, Menlo Park
  • Medivation, San Francisco
  • Restoration Hardware, Corte Madera
  • Simpson Strong-Tie, Pleasanton
  • Wells Fargo, San Francisco
  • Williams-Sonoma Inc., San Francisco
  • Yahoo, Sunnyvale
  • Zendesk, San Francisco

First Republic Bank and HP join the Watermark Index as honorable

The winners will be honored at Watermark’s signature event, the Make
Your Mark Awards, 6-9 p.m., tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Hyatt
Regency San Francisco Airport.

Watermark encourages leaders of the other 212 Bay Area companies to take
an honest look at their gender diversity makeup to determine areas for
improvement and next steps.

“We’d like to see more companies in the Watermark Index next year,”
Williamson says. “Several tech giants, including HP, Intel and
Salesforce, have already publicly acknowledged commitments to advance
diversity and equality in the past few months. We applaud these
companies’ efforts and encourage leaders of the other Bay Area companies
to do the same.”

“This important issue is getting some much-needed attention,” says
Graduate School of Management Research Specialist Amanda Kimball, author
of the UC Davis study. “I hope the Watermark Index serves as a catalyst
for more companies to recognize the importance of gender and racial
diversity on leadership teams.”

For companies that want to increase their gender diversity at all
levels, Watermark can help companies and employees achieve the right
balance for optimal success.

“By partnering with Watermark, companies can help ensure that all
employees – especially women – are well-equipped with the skills,
knowledge and experience they need to climb the corporate ladder,” says
Watermark Board Chair Lynne Born, partner and COO at Seiler. “We work
with companies to develop employee engagement programs, such as
mentorship and sponsorship programs, and to accelerate the growth of a
gender diverse talent pool in-house. And we encourage women to seek out
and participate in development programs to gain the skills they need to
advance in their careers.”

About Watermark

Watermark is the leading organization of Bay Area women executives
focused on increasing the representation of women in leadership roles.
Founded in 1993, Watermark represents more than 700 Bay Area senior and
emerging executives from across all industries and functions and offers
professional development and networking opportunities for members, as
well as support for girls’ leadership programs. Visit wearewatermark.org for
more information.

For more on Watermark, visit http://www.wearewatermark.org.


Elyssa Rae, 650-430-7459
Thorsby, 415-271-4374