Corporate boards: Stuck at 11%...

Last week The Boston Club released its 2010 Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers of Massachusetts Public Companies. The news? There isn’t any. There has been no change in the number of women directors on public boards in Massachusetts from this year to last year, last year to the year before, or even the year before that. The number has hovered at 11% since 2006.

What seems different about this year’s report is its aggressive tone. The authors acknowledge that it’s time to turn up the heat if companies are to change the way they do business. Reporters from The Boston Globe and Boston Business Journal asked some of the companies with no women directors (there were 41 on The Boston Club’s list this year) “Why?” Many repeated the same tired answers we’ve been hearing for years: “There are few women working in this field.” Or, “We asked a woman. She turned us down.”

C’mon fellas! It’s time that we all worked a little harder on this issue. We know that there are many qualified women who are ready to serve. CEOs have just to look beyond the traditional requirements (C-titles) to find a pipeline of highly educated, highly skilled women in a variety of fields, from technology, science, construction, finance, and manufacturing – the very fields that they say have no women.

Where to find them? Look outside of the C-suite. Doctors, lawyers, college presidents, and professors can qualify. So too can divisional vice presidents and heads of large nonprofit organizations.  Many women run their own privately held businesses. They have bottom line responsibilities and accountability, similar skills required in public companies.

Engage the help of firms that specialize in board search and have successfully placed women directors. There is also a network of nonprofit women’s business organizations that will help identify women candidates for a nominal fee. You can find their names on the 2020 Women on Boards website.

What is it going to take to unstick these boards and practice good corporate governance?