Numerous independent research studies have shown that public corporations with women on their boards out-perform boards with only men, as measured by profitability, productivity, and workforce engagement. Corporations are in business to grow, provide jobs, and generate profits, so adding the talents and experience of highly qualified women directors provides a competitive advantage. For the first time in history, institutional investors with trillions in assets are holding back their support when a corporate board has no women directors. A number of states have passed, or are considering, laws related to diversity on boards because it makes logical business sense for their state economies. In 2018, California was first in the U.S. to pass the historic law requiring corporations to add specific numbers of women directors within three years.
Historically, the corporate boardroom and top C-Level positions (CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CIO, etc.) have been off-limits to women. Generations of women have worked hard to advance in their careers, only to be stopped at the boardroom door. Serving on a corporate board is generally recognized as the pinnacle of business success. There’s a higher level of social esteem and business respect that comes from serving on corporate boards, as well as paid compensation. Board members themselves become more well-rounded executives. Women deserve to benefit from board service, just as men have for decades.
Today’s corporations must address issues of pay disparities, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women that have diminished corporate and individual reputations as well as public trust in their brands. Having women on boards is a step toward gaining, regaining, or maintaining a positive workplace for women. When women directors serve on boards, women employees look up to them as role models, reinforcing that the company values and recognizes the contributions of women at all levels.
European countries were the first to mandate minimum requirements of women directors. Their targets of 30% and 40% have been achieved and are considered normal now. In 2019, US companies exceeded 20%. Well-qualified women throughout the world are seeking and serving on corporate boards, to the advantage of enlightened corporations. Now is the time to welcome women to boards, adding their voices to business leadership in the U.S. and the world.