Why Gender Diversity Matters

Most people today have no knowledge about the makeup of corporate boards, even in the companies they work for. These stakeholders would be surprised to learn how little diversity of thought and experience exists in the corporate boardrooms and executive suites of American businesses.

Why should you care about board composition? Boards of directors make decisions that can impact you, your community, and the country.  That’s why it’s important that membership on corporate boards be representative of a company's constituents. Boards of directors choose CEOs. They make decicisions about executive compensation, whether to buy, sell, or merge with other companies, where corporate offices close and relocate, and how much priority a company gives to issues other than profits, such as social responsibility.

Good corporate decision-making requires the ability to hear and consider different points of view, which comes from people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Companies that have women directors and executive officers lead by example. They send a clear message that they value diversity of thought and experience. Advancing women to positions of leadership is smart business.

  • Diversity of Thought: Women on boards bring different perspectives to the difficult issues facing today’s corporations. It is widely believed that diversity of thought results in better decision making.
     
  • Stakeholder Representation: The makeup of corporate boards of directors should be representative of the company in which it governs: shareholders, employees, and customers.
     
  • Competitive Advantage: A diverse board is better positioned to thrive in today’s global economy where the pace of change is accelerating and rapidly changing economic realities require nimble, strategic and well informed directors.
     
  • Availability of Essential Skills: Senior women executives offer the skills and experience that most boards need, including industry knowledge, operational experience, and functional expertise. There is a huge, untapped pool of talent.

Women hold just a small number of corporate board seats. In 2013, the 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 companies showed that 16.6% of corporate directors were women. This is a small number when you consider that: women comprise about half of the total U.S. workforce; hold half of all management positions; are responsible for almost 80% of all consumer spending; and account for 10 million majority-owned, privately-held firms in the U.S., employing over 13 million people and generating over $1.9 trillion in sales.

It’s time that companies took advantage of this untapped pool of qualified board candidates. It’s time that we increased the number of women who serve on corporate boards.