Research shows that companies with greater numbers of women in executive leadership and board positions boast superior financial performance over their peers.
According to Credit Suisse, as much as 14 percent average growth, compared with 10 percent for boards with no female directors. Companies that embrace gender diversity are better governed, better managed and have better long-term growth prospects. As I learned during Nashville’s Corporate Board Academy, this is particularly true when there is a critical mass of three or more women on a board.
Bottom line: Board gender diversity has a positive impact on the bottom line.
Clearly, this is a win-win proposition for both companies and their shareholders, but even though some company boards are diverse, a vast majority of companies in the U.S. are not. According to 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 500 companies, women held just 18 percent of U.S. board seats. To further confuse the issue, many of the companies who have not diversified their board tables have women as their primary target audience.
Gender diversity is not my soapbox. Many women like me have simply worked hard to create value and have enjoyed a successful career because of it. So even I was surprised by how strong my reaction was to this disparity. It just seems that we’d leverage diversity as an asset for a stronger economy.
So, I took a look around to better understand what could get us closer to a tipping point. Some countries have quotas for a gender mix. That has made a difference, but I hope we can get there because it is the smart thing to do. Raising awareness of this issue is a good place to start. Identifying board-ready women and making sure they’re prepared is another step in the right direction.
I had the privilege of participating in the inaugural Corporate Board Academy, made possible by Cable, Women Corporate Directors and Nashville’s EY. Over three Saturday sessions, I had the opportunity to have my board bio critiqued by board members, engage with corporate directors from both public and private companies, and gain an understanding of the corporate board landscape.
Cable’s upcoming 2014 Women on Corporate Boards is being offered at a lower cost than similar courses thanks to the support of sponsors undefined Avenue Bank, Tennessee Chapter of Women on Corporate Boards, and the Nashville office of EY. Questions can be emailed to WoCB@NashvilleCABLE.org.
Evette White is Partner and CEO of Sullivan Branding.
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