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 Guilda Javaheri – Chief Information Officer, Golden State Foods. Please follow this link to see all the responses in the series.
Forefront Magazine: Why do you aspire to serve on the board for a public company?
Guilda Javaheri: Aspirations to serve on a board of directors for an organization would be driven from a desire to add strategic value, leveraging my diverse industry experience, professional background, and global industry knowledge.
FM: Why is gender diversity important for corporate boards?
GJ: Companies embracing gender diversity at the board level have often demonstrated better results by drawing on a wider range of viewpoints. Additionally, a more balanced gender distributions of corporate boards result in innovative perspectives to difficult issues facing today’s corporations.
It’s well documented that women control approximately over 60% of the buying decisions, yet many companies continue to market mostly to men and fail to explore how they might appeal to the female consumer. As such, companies that support a more gender-balanced board will be better positioned to capitalize on this powerful growth driver in the global economy.
However, the debate of diversity is less important than how such diversity could have a positive impact on actual performance. In other words, the conversation needs to be about how businesses can leverage the diversified perspective at the board level into their strategic value chain.
FM: What is the biggest reason you believe that there are not more women on corporate boards?
GJ: This question gets at broader social and systemic issues. Although women are rapidly evolving into corporate management and governance, there is still great gender disparity. In my view, the reasons mainly stem from psycho-social barriers that prevent women from gaining such positions, traditional gender bias, and male-centric network barriers.
FM: Have you explored or pursued any corporate board opportunities?
GJ: I have not explored any board opportunities yet, as the majority of my career has had me in executive management positions. But, given my diverse strategic and tactical experience; I will likely pursue such opportunities in the near future.
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?
GJ: The most important step is an acute cultural change starting with individual leaders in an organization to embrace gender diversity at the board level. While there may be worthy debates on the process, commitment by leadership will ultimately result in success. Additionally, women in executive positions should take more initiative to join and become active members of a board.
FM: What type of resources or assistance would you like to receive that might prepare you to serve on a corporate board?
GJ: More networking opportunities and support from existing board members, male or female.
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