New York

Hello New York

Start spreading the news ...  2020 Women on Boards launched its New York chapter at a full house event featuring CNN's Soledad O'Brien.  We presented the numbers from the 2020 Gender Diversity Index, and here's what we know: Add 100 women (give or take a few) to the boards of the 94 New York based Fortune 1000 companies and they all reach the 20% campaign benchmark. If everyone at the New York launch put forward the name of one qualified woman, we'd have it covered.

 Of the 94 companies on the New York list, 33% are Winning "W" Companies; 36% are Very Close "V" Companies; 17% are Token "T" Companies and 14% are Zero "Z" Companies. Compare this to the national F1000 figures (W=29%; V= 20%; T = 33% and Z = 18%) and the New York numbers look better than average.

 Our research tells us that larger companies have more women directors than smaller companies. Avon, a New York company with 50% women directors, makes the numbers look particularly good.

 We are working with our New York affiliates to grow the campaign and step-up the progress. Our New York affiliates include 85 Broads, Catalyst, High Water Women, National Council for Research on Women; Responsible Endowment Coalition, The Transition Network; Women Corporate Directors, Women's Forum of New York, and Women's Presidents' Organization.

 If you live in New York and want to join the campaign, log onto 2020wob.comand register your support. On the 20th of each month you'll get a 2020 Challenge asking you to take action to congratulate a W Company or encourage a V,T or Z to do better.  One thing's for sure. We can't do it without you.

 C'mon New York. Get with the 2020 program and join the campaign. Together we can make it happen!

Still No Progress: Is It Apathy?

This week ION released its 7th Annual Status Report of Women Directors and Executive Officers of Public Companies in Fourteen Regions of the United States. For the third consecutive year the percentage of women directors in public companies in the 14 regions studied has stayed static at 11%; the lowest percentage was in Tennessee at 8.3%; the highest was in New York at 18.4%.

The report shows that while large companies (those in the Fortune 500) do better with gender diversity in their board rooms, smaller companies – the majority of businesses that make up our local economies – are not getting the message.

Why has there been no progress? We think the reason is apathy. Alan Macdonald, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, said in a meeting with 2020 Women on Boards this week, that in theory, putting qualified women on corporate boards is not something people can argue with. It makes sense.

Putting the theory into practice has been difficult. The 14 business organizations that make up the ION network have worked tirelessly on this issue. They are a valuable resource for companies that are ready to take the step toward board diversity. Ask an ION member organization for help identifying qualified women and you’ll get 14 organizations working their networks. The charges for this service are minimal.

It’s time for corporate stakeholders (employees, shareholders, and consumers) to voice their concern about the lack of diversity on corporate boards. When companies start getting the message that their constituents are unhappy, they will begin to make changes.

What can you do? Vote your proxy. Email the companies that you do business with. Tell them that you care about the composition of the leadership in the company and urge them to diversify their boards.

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