An appointment to a corporate board of directors is the pinnacle of achievement in the business world. Over time, public companies have diversified their boards by experience, race, and ethnic background - but rarely by gender. Today, only 16 percent of U.S. corporate board members are women, despite research that companies with women directors perform better and deal more effectively with risk. Furthermore, studies show that the presence of at least three women is necessary to change boardroom dynamics.
That's why it is disappointing that Colgate-Palmolive, which holds its annual shareholder meeting on Friday, May 10, has only two women among the 10 nominees for its Board. But at least the nominee's gender is either obvious or easily researchable because this company lists each person by first and last name.
More curious is the practice of Bristol-Myers Squibb, which will hold its annual meeting on Tuesday, May 7. Its ballot lists board nominees by first initial and last name, leaving it to the shareholder to research the proposed director's gender, if s/he is interested, as I am - and as we all should be. Here's the breakdown: eight of its 10 nominees are men. Including Mr. Jerry Storch a/k/a G.L. Storch.
Increasing the number of women in senior leadership positions is one of Vision 2020's five goals. And it's a priority for many other organizations, too. The clear way to correct gender pay disparity and to create family-friendly workplace policies is by having women in decision-making roles. In other words, gender matters.
Above all, including women and people of color in decision-making means that all of America's brainpower is applied to improve our economy - and our society. The only way for women to achieve equality is when leadership is shared 50-50.