Only 19% of corporate board of directors seats are filled by women. With our friends at The Board Connection, we asked our executive network why it’s important to increase this number and how to do it.
Editor’s Note: According to a recent study by our friends at The Board Connection, only 19% of corporate board of directors seats are filled by women. This is an improvement from years past, but corporations have significant room for improvement when it comes to gender diversity in the boardroom. 7% still have no female board members. For additional statistics and insight, we encourage you to read the conclusions of the study on The Board Connection website.
We sought out executives who were either serving on corporate boards or aspire to do so, to create discussion around this topic. This Q&A is with Kellie Richter – Chief Marketing Officer, Provasi Capital Partners LP and Board Secretary for The Board Connection. Please follow this link to see all the responses in the series.
Forefront Magazine: The mission of TBC is to increase the number of women serving on public company boards as well as to develop and prepare women for public company board seats. Why do you aspire to serve on the board for a public company?
Kellie Richter: I am interested in serving on a public company board in the future so that I can apply my skills and expertise to advance and grow the business of a company whose mission is aligned with my professional interests and culture is aligned with personal values. I would expect that, through that experience, I could become an even more effective strategic leader in my current role for my own company.
FM: Why is gender diversity important for corporate boards?
KR: Because our world and workplace is increasingly diverse, diverse perspectives should also be increasing represented on company boards. Ideally, members of a board will reflect the demographic of not only a company’s employee base but also the company’s customer. When you have a variety of opinions, differing perspectives and you are receptive to feedback, better decisions are made overall.
FM: What is the biggest reason you believe that there are not more women on corporate boards? Have you explored or pursued any corporate board opportunities?
KR: Historically, many women have sacrificed career growth for time at home while raising children, but as the number of women holding senior positions in companies grow, we should expect correlating growth on company boards over time.
FM: Even though progress is being made how can further steps be taken to address board gender diversity? Does this require a change in mindset? A change in company/board culture?
KR: Our census data shows that progress is being made in certain industries and certain regions of the U.S., and that is very exciting to see. In my view, it is critical that having a board of diverse members is more commonly viewed as a way to create value for an organization and not viewed as compromising standards in order to fill a quota.
FM: How has your work with TBC prepared you to sit on the board for a public company? What have you learned and how will that help you once you are able to serve in that type of role?
KR: TBC provides regular access to educational experiences and perspectives from active and past board members, CEO’s, board recruiters, and our own member network. While the forum is there in which to learn and network, members are encouraged to understand that each of us is ultimately responsible for our own development. Sometimes we simply need the support of other experienced, successful women to encourage us. I’m proud to be part of an organization with such impressive member colleagues!
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