Editors' pick: This story was originally published on Dec. 9.
L Brands (LB) - Get L Brands, Inc. (LB) Report , the parent company of Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works and other retail brands marketed to women, has no women in its C-suite and just two on its eleven person board of directors.
One of the women on the board happens to be Abigail Wexner, an attorney who's married to Leslie Wexner, the company's CEO.
L Brands' share price has been floundering lately. In fact, it has taken quite a hit this year, falling 23%, and is slightly lower at $74.97 in mid-morning trading today.
In a reorganization of the brand, the Columbus, OH-based company in April shuttered its Victoria's Secret catalog and swimwear lines which were under-performing. Victoria's Secret has come under fire in the past, most recently for a tone deaf advertising campaign in 2014 which used the words "The Perfect Body" over images of models known as Victoria's Secret Angels.
Could a lack of women on its board and in its C-suite be part of L Brands problem?
L Brands declined comment to TheStreet on its board representation and if it has any diversity programs in place. However, a source noted that L Brands holds inclusiveness training, which helps participants learn about inequality and how to approach it in the workplace.
Some board members, like Raymond Zimmerman, CEO of 99cent Stuff, and who has served on the board since 1984, don't think representation is a problem. Zimmerman told TheStreet: "Two out of 10 are very accomplished women."
When asked if men are best suited to lead a company that markets almost exclusively to women, Zimmerman said, "business is business, whether it's hardware, software, all business is business."
While women make up 17% of L Brands' board, gender equality throughout the company seems to be an issue.
According to a data analysis using BoardEx data, women make up 35% of L Brands' current executive profile, which includes presidents and vice presidents of each brand. That percentage has been steady - a BoardEx data analysis on historical employment data at L Brands showed a similar percentage.
L Brands has had women in its C-suite before. Sharen Turney was CEO of the company for 10 years, and left last February. Leslie Wexner, who founded L Brands, took over when Turney's resignation was announced.
So why does this matter?
A Credit Suisse study shows that between 2012 and 2014 large companies with market caps greater than $10 billion with at least one woman on the board outperformed other large companies by five percentage points on a sector-neutral basis. L Brands' market cap is currently $21.53 billion.
What's more, research shows that having women in the boardroom can help a company outperform. And, companies that had strong female leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without, according to MSCI, a research firm. Additionally, MSCI showed, those without women on the board struggle with governance-related issues more frequently than those with women on the board.