corporate governance

IPOs Getting on the Diversity Bandwagon?

Last week it was Box Inc. and this week Shake Shack. Both companies launched IPOs with women on their boards. Box, the newest in file sharing platforms, went public as a Winning 'W' Company, with two of its ten directors women. Shake Shack, the hip, roadside burger joint coming to all neighborhoods soon, went public with just one woman on its board. It’s a 2020 Token 'T' Company.
 
We're happy to see companies take our advice (Needed: IPO Checklist that Includes Women) by putting their board in order before they go public, and not scramble to do the right thing after their IPO. But, we want our burgers and eat them too. So don’t stop now, Shake Shack. Put another woman on your board and join the ranks of Winning 'W' Companies. Your stakeholders will thank you!

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. 

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