The Truth About Gender Equality and Board Member Search
Board member gender equality is something that is always on our minds at Cardinal Board Services. Being in the industry for 25 years has given us the opportunity to hear many facts and fictions about why so few women are in leadership positions. If your company is not equally represented, we urge you to learn the facts, because your next best board member is likely a woman.
To set the groundwork, let’s start by getting clear on the equality gap. “Women make about 20% of all directors at S&P 500 companies. Nearly three-quarters of boards have at least two women directors–up sharply from a decade ago, when only half of boards did. Still, the U.S. lags behind many European countries, including Norway, where more than one-third of directors are women.” – Inside America’s Boardrooms I urge you to follow that link and look at this interactive infographic about America’s Boardrooms. While we are glad that women directors are rising, we don’t believe that 20% representation is something to celebrate just yet.
Why the gap? There are many fictions that companies tell themselves about this. The most common story is that there are not enough qualified women, a fiction that must be smashed. This comes from the fact that many boards hire from their direct network, or hire from internal CEOs, a role where gender equality is also an issue. So it’s not so much that there are not qualified women, it’s that boards are often looking in the wrong place. Here is an interesting article that elaborates on this trend.
The truth is, your board should be a more complete representation of the rest of your company, supplier base, customers, etc. The board also is making big decisions that may not be representative of your company’s eco system. In order to have a successful board, it’s important to have a team of people who will bring something unique to the table. To have all perspectives covered, boards must be representative of both genders.