The idea for 2020 Women on Boards was brought to life in 2010 in Boston. Co-founders Stephanie Sonnabend and Malli Gero, were neighbors and friends who shared similar frustration with the slow progress being made by corporations to increase the numbers of women directors on boards. As former CEO of an international hospitality company, Stephanie Sonnabend has served as a director on two public boards and is a member of women’s leadership organizations. Malli Gero, a public relations executive, had worked on women’s leadership issues for many years before launching 2020WOB, and has served on a number of nonprofit boards.
The founders wanted to create a grassroots campaign to raise awareness of the issue among young people, middle managers, senior executives, and consumers—people who probably had not previously thought about its relevance to their lives and jobs. They wanted to enlist them as champions through the use of social and traditional media. From that concept, the campaign expanded to involve corporations throughout the country. They tracked the lack of women on boards through in-depth research, and spawned major public events in key cities to educate women at all stages of their careers about getting on boards.
They believe their goal would be easily achievable in ten years: to raise the percentage of women on U.S. corporate boards to 20% or greater by the year 2020. The campaign expanded nationally in 2011.
For the first six years, the campaign tracked the Fortune 1000 corporations and saw the percentage of women on boards increase from 14.6% in 2011 to over 20% in 2017. Having reached the goal of 20% in the Fortune 1000 the campaign transitioned to the Russell 3000 companies. In 2017 the percentage of women on the Russell 3000 was 16% and one-fourth of the companies had no women on their boards. By 2019 the Russell 3000 list exceeded 20% and only 11% of the companies have no women.
Continuing to grow in size and influence over the years, 2020WOB built an army of active volunteers and supporters who continue to propel the campaign forward. When the milestone year 2020 is reached, there will be a new name, a new goal, and renewed focus to add more women on corporate boards.
We thank Stephanie and Malli for their energy, dedication and unstoppable commitment to the long-term increase of women directors on corporate boards and the success of 2020WOB!
2020 Women on Boards is a 501c3 organization. All donations to 2020 Women on Boards are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.