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Boosting the Potential for Women to Hold Board Seats

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Boosting the Potential for Women to Hold Board Seats

Members of the Thirty Percent Coalition know that the pace of gender diversity in the boardroom is that of a glacier: exceedingly slow.
 

The Coalition, formed in 2011, is committed to a goal: that women, including women of color, hold 30 percent of board seats across public companies. Sadly, that number today is only 19 percent.

But, the Coalition and others who support diversity, are slowing gaining momentum, encouraging companies to open up about their recruitment efforts and the number of minorities in leadership roles.

Apple, for instance, has been under the microscope, based on the efforts of some shareholders who believe in the value of diverse decision-making. Resolutions have pointed to the fact that African Americans and Hispanics make up more than 30 percent of the U.S. population but represent only 9 percent of Apple’s leadership, according to a Jan. 12, 2016, Bloomberg article.

More arguments for adding women to corporate boards can be found in a study — “Women in Business: The Value of Diversity” — by global accounting firm Grant Thornton. Primarily, it states that companies perform better when they have women in leadership roles. In fact, study after study shows that diversity improves decision-making. Some of those decisions can surely affect financial outcomes.

There is some promising news on the recruitment scene, according to the Bloomberg article. TheExecutive Leadership Council, which connects companies with African-American candidates, said the council recently received more than 50 inquiries looking for diverse board member candidates — three times as many as in 2011.

To ensure that successful recruiting continues, the Thirty Percent Coalition has identified three sectors with the clout to effect change: institutional investors, the public policy power of government and the persuasive power of corporate leaders.

According to the Coalition’s website, here is a snapshot of recruitment efforts and results:

  • A committee of institutional investors contacted companies in the Russell 1000 with no female directors. Through letters, conversations and some shareholder resolutions, the committee reported that 24 companies have elected women to boards that had been all male.
  • A public sector committee is working with public officials to support cities and states considering resolutions to encourage diversity on corporate boards and executive orders or ordinances that require bidders for public contracts to disclose board diversity data or report on plans for improvement. In addition, officials who control pension funds are engaged in investor efforts, outreach to the Securities Exchange Commission and are developing policies to vote against non-diverse boards.
  • A corporate leaders committee is working to enlarge a group of business leaders who are using their influence to publicly advocate for change and privately talk with their peers. Executives in key positions such as chief diversity officer and general counsel also have the ability to influence their boards and peers in other companies by sharing strategies for increasing board diversity.

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If you’re an investor of a publicly held company, it takes only a brief internet search to determine if diversity is a central theme on the board.

Take a look.  Be inclusive!

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