Of course it does, but until recently I didn’t really consider why. However, a recent invitation to hear about the 2020 Women on Boards campaign, a grassroots effort aimed at sparking a national conversation around the need for gender diversity on public company boards, focused my attention.
It’s an interesting challenge because the most of us don’t know a lot about the make-up of corporate boards—in fact, we often don’t even know who sits on the board of our own employer! The 2020wob.com site explains that, “boards of directors make decisions that can impact you, your community, and the country… They make decisions about executive compensation, whether to buy, sell, or merge with other companies, where corporate offices close and relocate, and how much priority a company gives to issues other than profits, such as social responsibility.” Read more here.
One of the more eye-opening comments came from a discussion led by Lisa A. Hook, President & CEO of Neustar and board member of Neustar and Reed Elsevier, who noted that women who want to be on corporate boards need to start working toward this goal while in their 40s —more that a decade earlier than their male counterparts. It is that much more difficult for women to achieve this distinction. This was reinforced by the Washington Post in a recent article presenting research results, from economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, that support efforts to break the glass ceiling. Hewlett concluded that “women and minorities often get stalled in middle management positions due to an unconscious bias and that despite progress at lower and middle management positions, at the top it’s still a wall of white men.” Less than 8% of top earners are female, so clearly there’s much work to be done. Read the full article here.
Changing the diversity of American corporate boards and top management teams will take time, but there’s much we can do today. For companies, this should be as much of a marketing concern as it is a corporate governance issue. Women make major purchasing decisions on most everything and I was surprised to learn how many of my favorite brands are run by boards with only one and often no women directors. Frankly, this information has major implications for my holiday shopping plans. To learn more and to see how your favorite brands compare, go to http://www.2020wob.com/learn.