Issues about the lack of women in senior corporate roles are discussed in the media and in forums regularly -- yet busy executives hear but do not fully get it -- that women at the top is a bottom line, strategic business imperative, not just a nice thing to do!
More women on boards is not the nice thing to do - it is the right thing for two compelling reasons: groupthink does not lead to good decision making and gender diversity on boards is highly correlated with stronger company financial performance.
It might be useful to look at some of the dynamics of the boardroom with a gendered lens (although I would quickly add, to focus on what is observed from the dominant group's members and those from the non-dominant group members).
A man who owns a small business may be able to get away with a good suit, some nice shirts, and a few striped ties when needed, but women need to be more creative. They want to look professional and fashionable, without being boring.
With only 21 percent of women in senior management in the U.S., is America at risk of a "brain drain?" The answer is probably "Yes," as corporate executives shop the world for talent to manage their fast-growing businesses.
There's a business case to be made for the results women bring to the table -- but to really see more women in leadership positions, we need CEOs to understand that greater diversity at the most senior levels of business will help them gain a competitive advantage.
The bottom line is this: Stretching yourself too thin will not allow you to put your best foot forward and splitting your time between too many boards can prove to be very challenging (even for the most experienced board members).
Old habits die hard. For decades board members were chosen among the friends and colleagues of the CEO and others on the board. Since boards were comprised almost exclusively by men and in particular by other CEOs it is not surprising to find so few women.
We are witnessing a shift in the nature of leadership. The command and control structures we have inherited from traditional leadership are making way for styles characterised more by empathy, partnership and collaboration than by ego.