Press Mentions

  • Generational turning point for women to GET ON BOARD

    Milwaukee Business News March 31, 2014

    For the past 23 years, U.S. women ages 25 to 29 have outpaced their male counterparts in completing college degrees, according to data from the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau.
    And yet, fewer than 15 percent of the board director positions at Wisconsin's top 50 public companies are held by women. Through this severe gender gap in corporate leadership, companies are not only missing out on a significant pipeline of talent, but they are also hindering their ability to compete in the global marketplace, according to Phyllis King, chair of Milwaukee Women inc, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gender diversity in corporate leadership in Wisconsin."We know that companies with one or more women on their corporate boards outperform those that have no women on their boards," King said. "So if we want to be competitive and (if) we want to have an economic advantage, then it would behoove us to take a look at diversity on our boards."
    "More women in leadership positions can only help to enhance our region," said Peggy Williams-Smith, president of Tempo Milwaukee, a professional development organization specific to women. "It can only help to bring more leaders into our area, to keep people here. The more we can do to have a voice in our community, the more successful the community will be."Corporate America is facing a crucial generational turning point, as a wave of baby boomer board directors prepare to retire, opening up board seats that could be filled by women, King said. According to a 2013 Ernst & Young LLP report on gender diversity in the boardrooms and C-suites of S&P 1500 companies, around 27 percent of current board seats could turn over in the next five years. And, as King cites from the same report, "Men account for 94 percent of these board seats held by directors age 68 and over."


    Fast Company March 27, 2014

    The topic of women in leadership often comes up when I do interviews. It’s an ongoing conversation that I hope, one day, will not be among the things I get asked about. Why? When that day comes, it means we’ve reached parity and don’t feel the need to address leadership diversity as an issue. Unfortunately, that day has not yet arrived.
    In 2013, just 16.9% of Fortune 500 board seats were filled by women--and women’s representation on boards has stagnated, gaining just two percentage points from 2006 to 2013.
    Locally, we’re not doing much better: 128 Silicon Valley companies representing $1.2 trillion in shareholder value have just 6.6% of their highest-paid executive positions filled by women, and only 8.4% of Silicon Valley board members are women. It’s a shame when you consider that companies with sustained high representation of women on their boards significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation by 84% on return on sales, 60% on return on invested capital, and 46% on return on equity.

  • Gender-Driven Growth: Are Quotas in Boardrooms a Positive Force for Change?

    HuffPost Business February 27, 2014

    A controversial debate on Gender-Driven Growth at the World Economic Forum in Davos concluded: Quotas for women in board roles are needed to banish the "tyranny of low expectations." The prestigious panel included Christine Lagarde, Sheryl Sandberg, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Carlos Ghosn.
    Highlighting the increasing frustration over the poor representation of women in board Lagarde, President of the International Monetary Fund, spoke out forcefully about the importance of women leaders to boost business performance. She emphasized that action was needed to close the gender gap at the top. "I'm pro-quotas, I'm pro targets, and I think we should be made accountable in order to reach those numbers," Lagarde declared, stressing the importance of measures to accelerate change.
    Initially against quotas at the start of her career, Lagarde changed her stance after being told that she would have little chance of being promoted to partner at her Chicago-based international law firm because she was a woman.

  • Ameriprise adds two women to board

    Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal February 26, 2014

    Ameriprise Financial Inc. added Dianne Neal Blixt and Amy DiGeso to its board of directors Wednesday. The additions bring the board to 10 directors, up from eight after the retirement of Warren Knowlton at the end of 2013. Their appointments also bring the number of females on the board to three, or 30 percent. That number exceeds the 20 percent goal of national organization 2020 Women on Boards, which is pushing for more women on corporate boards.

  • Women on Board: Credit Unions Seek Volunteer Diversity

    Credit Union Times February 12, 2014

    Roxy Ostrem, chair of the board of directors at Ventura County Credit Union, will never forget a pivotal moment during childhood that launched her lifetime connection with the credit union industry. “I was in need of glasses, but my parents had divorced and my mother could not afford them,” recalled Ostrem, who joined the board at the $654 million cooperative in Ventura, Calif. in 2000. “My mother worked for the County of Ventura and she tried to get a bank loan, but because she was a single mom and did not make much, they turned her down,” she explained. “Fortunately, someone told her about the newly-founded Ventura County Credit Union and suggested she go there.” Not only did her mother get the loan, she also regained her dignity, Ostrem added. “The folks at the credit union made her feel like a human, a woman who now can help her daughter get what was needed,” she said. Ostrem’s mother, the late Patti Shobe, served on VCCU’s board for over 30 years, including two terms as chair.
    One big difference between VCCU and most Fortune 500 boards is that the credit union has a high level of gender diversity, Ostrem added. “Women have always made up at least half of our board,” she explained. That’s a rarity, according to recent studies. Last year at Fortune 500 companies, women held only 16.9% of board seats, and 10% of companies had no women serving on boards, according to the 2013 Catalyst Census. “Shareholders beware: a company with no women at the top is missing one of the biggest opportunities in the marketplace today,” Ilene Lang, CEO/president of Catalyst, a New York-based nonprofit founded in 1962 to expand opportunities for women and business, stated in a press release announcing the census results.

  • How to Ensure We’re Not Having The Same Conversation About Women in the Boardroom in 2014

    The Glass Hammer February 7, 2014

    Sheila Ronning, President & CEO of Women in the Boardroom, does not mince words when it comes to the topic that gave her organization its name. “Research for the amount of women serving on corporate boards is only being done for the Fortune 500 and those boards are still mainly only looking at CEO’s in F500 to fill those spots. So yes, we know there are a lack of women sitting at the helm of those companies,” Ronning said. “Mid cap and small company boards are also a great place for women to take a seat at the table and there are thousands and thousands of women who are more than qualified for these boards. In just the last 12 months, even though we are not a search firm, we at Women in the Boardroom have received 19 notifications of these board seat openings and we work to connect our board ready women with these companies.”
    As Ronning affirmed, there are more than enough qualified women, but recent Catalyst research tells us that there has been absolutely no change in the number of women on Fortune 500 boards or the number executive officers and top earners. We’ve talked at length about the lack of female representation at these levels, but what now? How do we ensure we’re not having the same conversation about women in the boardroom in 2014?
    Malli Gero is Executive Director and Co-Founder of 2020 Women on Boards, a national campaign working to increase the women on U.S. boards to 20 percent by the year 2020. We need to change the narrative and instead of focusing on the bleak numbers, focus on what can be done. Gero says there are three parties who can be making progress both separately and collectively: stakeholders, CEOs, and individual women. All three, Gero says, are important in the quest for gender parity.

  • U.S. Boards of Directors Lag Behind in Naming Women

    The Wall Street Journal February 4, 2014

    The U.S. is lagging behind other developed nations in the international race to place more women on corporate boards. The ranks of female directors at big public companies are growing faster in several countries, thanks to legal mandates or extensive voluntary efforts. Their board representation ranges from 36% in Norway, whose "pink quota" law took effect in 2008, to 26.8% in Finland, where a corporate push since 2010 has forced companies with no women on their boards to tell investors why.
    In the U.S., women occupied just 16.9% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies last year, reports Catalyst, a nonprofit research group. That figure barely budged over the previous eight years.

  • California Tries to Spur Companies to Name Women Directors

    The Wall Street Journal February 4, 2014

    California lawmakers want the state's publicly held corporations to get more women on their boards—fast. Late last summer, the state legislature passed a resolution, the first of its kind in the U.S., urging public companies to increase the proportion of women board members by the end of 2016. The nonbinding measure suggests targets ranging from at least two seats on boards with fewer than eight seats to at least three seats on boards with nine or more seats.
    "The body of evidence to date concludes that companies perform better when their boards and executive leadership include women," the resolution said. Yet "44.8% of California's companies have no women directors."

  • More Women on Corporate Boards Impacts All of Us

    Huff Post Women February 3, 2014

    2020 Women on Boards, an advocacy organization of 50 affiliates, including women's groups, institutional investors and high-profile CEOs, is sending out "W" (for "winner") certificates this month to the 496 companies that have 20 percent or more board seats held by women. While this number is a small percentage of all the companies in the country, it does represent a gain of 51 companies in the 2020 database of 1500 companies.

  • US looks on as others up fight against gender inequality in workplace

    Al Jazeera America January 27, 2014

    U.S. companies are facing increasing pressure to adopt policies that would raise the number of women in the workplace, and in boardrooms that still are predominantly male. And now American advocacy groups are eyeing gender quota rules in Europe, as the controversial issue surfaced among some of the international community’s most powerful women at the latest World Economic Forum meeting. 
    Calls for gender-equality policies in the United States have followed the implementation of measures such as California’s resolution 62, which took effect last fall. The non-binding legislative nudge “encourages” boards with nine or more members to include three women, and boards of five to eight to include at least two women within three years.
    Malli Gero, co-founder and head of 2020 Women on Boards – a U.S.-based advocacy group for gender diversity in the workspace and a primary supporter of the resolution – told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that giving a voice to more women in corporate America will be “a really good thing” for everyone involved. “We are working with our 2020 chapters to work on similar state initiatives” elsewhere in the country, she said. But the California resolution stops short of legally enforcing gender diversity – a strategy with which Gero’s group agrees. “Here in the U.S., we don’t believe in quotas,” she said.

  • Measures To Increase Gender Diversity On Corporate Boards Gain Traction

    Mondaq January 21, 2014

    On Aug. 26, 2013, the California State Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 62,1 which calls for greater representation of women on corporate boards, with a 30-6 vote. Although this resolution does not require corporations to take action, it encourages publicly traded corporations in California with fewer than five board seats to have at least one female director, those with five to eight board seats to have at least two female directors, and those with nine or more director seats to have at least three female directors. It also sets the goal that all publicly traded corporations in the state have at least one woman by 2016. This issue became a front-page headline when Twitter filed for its initial public offering and revealed that its seven-member board was exclusively composed of men. Twitter has named Marjorie Scardino—the former CEO of Pearson—to its board in December 2013.

  • Diversity an important goal for board membership

    Tallahassee Democrat January 4, 2014

    I love it when people stand up for what they believe. Even when people are on the other side of an issue from me, I appreciate the courage it takes for someone to speak out when others aren’t.
    And given my work with nonprofits and my passion for improving the world for women and girls, it was like I had an explosion of interest when I heard about a grassroots nonprofit devoted to increasing the number of women serving on corporate boards.
    2020 Women on Boards (20 percent or more of company board seats held by women by 2020) was created in 2010 by Malli Gero and Stephanie Sonnabend. They were motivated by the lack of representation of women on corporate boards and the fact the numbers were not increasing. 2020 Women on Boards concentrates on educating and mobilizing stakeholders, including consumers, on the importance of this issue.