Women on Boards

Needed: A New IPO Checklist that Includes Women

Last year, when Facebook issued its IPO without a woman on its board of directors there was huge public outcry about the oversight. Women's organizations called for a boycott; people picketed Facebook's offices in New York. After the company went public it tried to rectify the error by putting Sheryl Sandberg on its board. Soon after that, Facebook appointed a second woman, Susan Desmond-Hellman.
 
History repeated itself this year when Twitter announced its IPO plan. Again, stakeholders who care about good corporate governance and company transparency voiced their outrage that another technology giant would go public without any women in the boardroom. During the IPO launch Twitter CEO Dick Costello sparred with Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at Stanford's Rock Center for Corporate Governance, for his statement in the New York Times, " The fact that they went to the I.P.O. without a single woman on the board, how dare they?"
 
Following the IPO, Twitter announced the appointment of its first woman director, Marjorie Scardino, former executive director of Pearson. When asked about the lack of gender diversity on the Twitter board Costello said it was a pipeline issue. But if Scardino was available after the IPO she was probably available before it, along with other qualified women. Men who use the pipeline argument are out of touch with today’s business environment.
 
In 2013 in Silicon Valley, eight out of 13 companies that launched IPOs had no women on their boards. This situation is not because of a pipeline issue; it's directly related to the male-dominated venture community. Venture firms appoint their investors to fill start-up board seats and venture investors are predominantly white and male.
 

@Twitter. Put a woman on your board. Do it now.

Don't they learn? What's with these venture-backed technology companies? Twitter just filed for an IPO with an all-male board of directors.  Even in the male dominated technology sector, companies are adding women to their boards.
 
In "Mining the Metrics" a study by Thompson Reuters (2013) of 4100 global companies, technology, industrials and non-cyclical consumer companies led in the gender diversity of their boards. In our own research of Fortune 1000 companies every sector, including technology, has added women to the boardroom.
 
So what's with Twitter and their underwriters, Goldman, Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Securities? Don't they read the reports that show that companies with women on their boards outperform companies without women?
 
Twitter, you may think you're worth a billion dollars, but you're a Zero "Z" Company to us.
 
Tell Twitter to put a woman on its board: @Twitter. Put a woman on your board. Do it now. #CorpGov @2020WOB

CA Urges its Public Companies to Put More Women on Their Boards - SCR 62

In another "California leads the nation" moment, on Thursday, September 12, the California State Assembly passed Resolution SCR 62 urging all publicly held corporations over the next three years to add women to their boards of directors. The California Senate approved the resolution on August 26. California is the first state in the US to take a stand on gender diversity in the boardroom and the first state to define boardroom diversity as three women directors with a timeline of three years.
 
SCR 62 is not a law but it demonstrates the state's commitment to diversifying the boards of California public companies. It urges companies to have a minimum of 3 women directors on every corporate board of 9 members or more by the end of 2016. Boards with 5 to 8 seats should have a minimum of two women, and boards with 4 or fewer seats should have at least one woman.
 
According to research conducted by UC Davis almost half of the 400 largest publicly held corporations in California have NO women on their boards.
 
The National Association of Women Business Owners - California (NAWBO-CA) was the sponsoring organization of SCR-62. The resolution's authors included Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara and Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal of Long Beach CA,  both Vice Chairs of the California Legislative Women's Caucus.
 
Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, 2020 Women on Boards/LA Chapter Co-Chair with Renee Fraser, and a board member of NAWBO-CA, worked tirelessly to bring forward this initiative. We encourage 2020 supporters to work with their own state legislators to pass similar resolutions. To get started, find the Women's Caucus (group of women legislators) in your state.
 

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