w companies

Investor Spring? Not just for executive pay.

In Gretchen Morgenson's article "Inciting a Revolution: The Investor Spring" (The New York Times, June 5, 2011) she tells the story of an investor who was disillusioned with shareholder returns relative to management pay packages.  The investor, a retired CEO from a major advertising agency, reasoned that if social media could be used to topple regimes in the Middle East, it could also be used to help disenfranchised investors.

The retired CEO started a website for like-minded investors who owned shares of a pharmaceutical company. The website encouraged investors to vote as a block against the company's pay practices and for all of the directors up for election. The company's annual meeting is not until June 15, but it's taking notice of this group of feisty investors.

We developed the 2020 Women on Boards website to build a groundswell of support for getting more women on public company boards.  The counter on our website indicates the number of people who support the 2020 initiative. We reached over 1,000 supporters as the campaign celebrated its 6-month anniversary on June 1st.

Numbers talk. As the number of people who support the Women on Boards campaign increases we expect that the companies will feel the heat and diversify their boards.  The most effective way for this to happen is for shareholders aligned with our mission to vote their proxies.

The 2011 proxy season is coming to a close. You can be sure that the 2020 campaign will begin to identify diversity resolutions during the 2012 proxy season. As for now, watch our list of W companies grow, and be on the lookout for the Z list coming in January.

Why 2020?

Welcome to our website and to the 2020 Women on Boards campaign. 2020 WOB is a grassroots initiative devoted to increasing the participation of women on corporate boards. We’re smart business people -- men and women -- who understand the value that diverse points of view add to corporate decision making.

You don’t have to be in business to benefit from the 2020 Women on Boards campaign. Everyone benefits from good business decisions: consumers, employees, stockholders, and retirees, even children. There’s plenty of evidence that says that boards of directors that include women are more profitable. Strong companies are good for us all.

Why will something that makes so much sense take so long to achieve? It’s hard to change human behavior. Even things that seem logical can take time to implement. For example, many directors sit on boards for years at a time. There is very slow turnover. Although the number of women on corporate boards of the Fortune 1000 companies has remained stuck at 11% for 10 years, there has been some change. There are many companies (see our list of W companies) that have women directors. But change has moved very slowly. It’s time to pick up the pace. If we can achieve 20% by 2020 we will have done our jobs; if we can achieve it by 2015, so much the better.

Here’s how you can help. Voice your support for the campaign and the issue by becoming a Supporter. We’re looking for 1 million supporters by the end of 2011. Become a Donor. There’s information on the various levels of support on the pages of this website. And tell your friends: there is strength in numbers. Together we can make it happen.

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