Editors' pick: Originally published Feb. 17.
As leaders in the United States and Canada announce plans to team up on promoting women in business, corporate America's performance in gender diversity remains a mixed bag, even at the highest levels.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced the launch of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. The pair discussed connectivity and business activity between women business leaders at a White House roundtable attended by nine female executives, including General Electric Canada's (GE) Elyse Allan, General Motors' (GM) Carol Stephenson and Accenture North America's (ACN) Julie Sweet.
"It is a priority of both countries to ensure equal opportunities for women in the workforce. We are committed to removing barriers to women's participation in the business community and supporting women as they advance through it," Trump and Trudeau said in a joint statement.
While strides have been made, the issue of women in business remains a complicated one. While some companies do an excellent job at achieving diversity, many others still fall significantly short in their workforces, in executive offices and in the boardroom.
According to data from TheStreet's BoardEx, Canada and the U.S. trail 10 countries in gender diversity in the boardroom, falling behind Norway, France, Sweden, Italy and the U.K., among others. (Canada outpaces the U.S. slightly).
There are five companies in the S&P 500 that have no women on their boards of directors at all, according to Boardex: Dentsply Sirona (XRAY) , Linear Technology (LLTC) , Concho Resources (CXO) , Transdigm Group (TDG) and Coty (COTY) .
Soon, that number will be cut down to four. A week after TheStreet contacted Coty regarding the makeup of its eight-man board, including reaching out to its CEO and chairman, the cosmetics company said it would add a woman to its board by the second quarter of 2017.
Change is happening but slow-coming.
Women make up about 20% of total S&P 500 boards, and when expanded to the S&P 1500, they account for fewer than 18% of board-seats, according to a recent analysis from the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute. The New York nonprofit group that focuses on corporate responsibility and investors found that all-male boards have declined to 13.8% of all S&P 1500 boards in 2016 from 33% in 2008. But they still far outnumber boards with four or more women directors -- just 6.8%.
Last year marked the first time a majority of S&P 1500 boards had two or more women serving on them.
"Progress is slow, but some boards have broken through the two-seat glass ceiling," the IRRCi said.
"I can say from my past life, I had so many women executives that were phenomenal, phenomenal, and they really helped me a great deal in business. So it was really fantastic," he said. "They play a tremendously important role, women, in our economy."
Whether Trump, who hundreds of thousands of women marched against the day after his inauguration, will be a friend or foe to women from the Oval Office remains to be seen.
TheStreet recently profiled the companies that are and aren't doing a good job when it comes to achieving gender diversity at the highest levels. Take a look at the S&P 500 companies with the most diverse boards and the five companies without any women in the boardroom.