women directors

Agreed: Diversity of Thought Does Not Mean Argumentative

“My father was not looking for diversity of thought.  He was looking for agreement,”  writes Stephanie Sonnabend.  Thus explaining her challenge in securing women for the board of Sonesta International Corporation, the publicly traded, family controlled global hotel chain of which her father was Chairman of the Board.  
However, with her persistent urging, first one woman was added, then Stephanie became the second and eventually a third.  Upon his passing, Stephanie helped create an even more diverse board including four women and two minorities of ten directors.  Did this lead to contentious board meetings with diversity of thought contributing to gridlock and lack of action?  Of course not.  Rather, the new participants helped enhance strategic conversations with a wide-angle view. Board members who had been relatively silent became active participants in more dynamic and valuable conversations.
With her three perspectives as insider at Sonesta, as an independent director at Century Bank & Trust and co-founder of 2020 Women on Boards, Stephanie exemplifies the impact of being able to look at a business question from different points of view. 
So when you hear the pushback that a more a diverse board means the Chair will have to spend valuable time justifying decisions rather than executing on them, offer a different perspective.  A board comprised of diversity of people can offer new perspectives on forward-thinking strategy and business operations.
Read the full article here:  Gender Diversity in the Corporate Boardroom: Creating a Tipping Point for Change

An August to Remember

You’ve heard how hard it is to find qualified women board appointees?  Not for these seven companies.  3M, Care.com, Dollar General, Jack in the Box, Potbelly, Raytheon and Tesla all appointed women to their boards this month.  For some it was a noteworthy first, for others a natural second or third woman director. 

These newly appointed directors bring a range of high-level skills including  IT operations, digital marketing, financial expertise and retail savvy.  Proof positive that senior women executives have the skills and experience that boards need - including industry knowledge, operational experience and functional expertise.

As such, we look forward to their contributions including:
• 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.

So the next time you hear the excuse, “we can’t find qualified women,” remember this month’s pool of just-tapped talent.  We applaud all of our recent appointees, and encourage other companies to dive on in, the water’s fine. 

Closing The Wage Gap

A few years ago, my daughter applied for her first job after college. She worked hard on her resume and cover letter, was asked to come in for an interview and landed the job. Bubbling with excitement, she called to tell me the news. After congratulating her, hearing about the meeting and the responsibilities of the job, I asked how much money she'd be making. Sheepishly, she said, "I didn't ask."
I couldn't believe it.  With college loans and rent to pay, my daughter needed a paycheck. I asked her why she didn't ask and her answer astounded me. "I thought it was impolite to talk about money," she said.
What I hadn't taught her, and what her university failed to teach her, was that it's OK -- even necessary -- to talk about money. It's a problem that many women have.
In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg tells a story about negotiating her contract at Facebook. She recounts how she was prepared to accept a compensation package that was less than she thought she deserved until her brother-in-law pointedly asked "why would you be willing to make less than any man would make to do the same job?"[1] She went back, re-negotiated with Mark Zuckerberg, and got the package she thought she deserved.

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