I recently wrote about how women should not wait until retirement to work on securing a corporate board seat. As follow-up, someone ask me why it matters. If it's so hard for women to secure a board appointment, why fight with it? Why not find ways around it - other ways to have impact? This was my response.
It matters because we need women at the table. Women on boards lead to better financial performance, greater innovation, lower risk, faster safety recalls, greater corporate social responsibility - the list of benefits is endless. All male board? You get Harvey Weinstein and a pattern of sexual assault swept under the rug for decades.
The work of corporate boards can’t be left to just the men - women not only have a right and a reason to be at the table, they have a responsibility to be there as well. As Marie Wilson said, women can and must help run the world. So while it’s a struggle - it’s one we can’t give up on or try to find a way around. We need women in positions of power and authority.
Board service can also be a financial bonus - at least with public company boards. It’s a great way to ease into retirement, to continue to earn a living, to grow an investment portfolio. Women should have the same access to these rewards as men. And companies should have the benefit of what these women can bring to the decision-making process.
The challenge with male dominance and bias is real though - what all the research shows is that you need at least three women on a board for critical mass. That get’s you past being the token female board member who is easier to ignore or put in her place.
California’s board diversity legislation is great because it acknowledges the challenge of critical mass - by 2021, boards with five members have to have two women, and boards with six or more members have to have three women (minimums). Many of the European quotas are 30-40% as well - this helps women have an impact.
I've said it before:
- women have a right to be at the table - we're in the majority - we've paid our dues
- women have a reason to be at the table - all the research shows our presence makes a difference
- women have a responsibility to be at the table - as busy as we are, we can't opt-out on our responsibility to be a part of the decision-making process.
Now more than ever, we need women on board.
Photo: Drew Beamer, Unsplash
Tags: Getting on Board