The percentage of women holding board seats has been inching up very slowly, maybe a percentage a year. But, is this really progress?
While the importance of women having a role in corporate governance is increasingly apparent, the percentage of all women holding board seats in the S&P 500 is about 21%. It’s significantly less for women of color. This year we’re seeing that the representation of all women among new board members is at an all-time high, about 36%. But if you dig deeper, only 6% of these new directors are women of color. Boards do not reflect the diversity of America in terms of both the talent pool and the customer base. There’s still quite a bit of work to do.
So what can we do – especially in the current environment in which corporations are increasingly conscious of the risks of not having a diverse boards – to increase the number of women in the boardroom, change the conversation to make the workplace significantly different for women, and impact the policies of the corporations that shape our world?
On February 27th, YaleWomen Council member Akosua Barthwell Evans, PhD and ’90 JD, moderated a conversation about women on corporate boards with Brandi Stellings ’89, Senior Vice President of Catalyst, and Ann Fudge, former Chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam. Drawing upon their vast collective experience and expertise, Ann, Brande, and Akosua offered honest and practical advice about how to think about and develop a strategy to pursue a board seat, as well as what each of us as consumers and investors can do to increase the number of women in board positions. The webinar was produced by Ursula Burton ’88 and Jennifer DeVore ’87.
Special thanks to Catalyst for hosting Women on Corporate Boards, the fifth in YaleWomen’s webinar series dedicated to lifelong learning and elevating more women to leadership positions. Thanks, too, to Brande for shouting out the value of volunteer work as an alum, including with YaleWomen!
You can watch this and previous webinars here.
- Elizabeth (Eli) M. Gerard ‘79
Pictured above, from left to right: Brande Stellings, Akosua Barthwell Evans, and Ann Fudge
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