Big News: Companies with women on their board of directors outperform those companies that have all-male boards, according to a 2012 study of more than 2000 companies worldwide by Credit Suisse. This is not big news to the handful of women who comprise 16.6% of Fortune 500 board seats. They are very clear about the value they bring to the table and assert it clearly in The Board Game: How Smart Women Become Corporate Directors by Betsy Berkhemer, available on Amazon.com. So why has that percentage been stuck for the last five years?
Fifty-eight outstanding women directors are speaking out and sharing their varied experience to encourage other women to join them. The Board Game is the blueprint.
There has never been a better time for women to fix their sights on what the Harvard Business Review calls "the pinnacle of career success" in its June issue. The business case is clear. Many male CEOs and institutional investors groups have joined with professional women's organizations to advocate for change. Mandated quotas for women on boards in Europe have "sensitized most boards to fairness argument for 'diversity,'" according to HBR. And U.S. legislation and regulations require more transparency and financial expertise on public company boards.
The HBR research shines a light on the Credit Suisse findings, with 27% of women directors interviewed saying they "want to lead or continue leading a company", while only 19% of their male counterparts expressed this desire. This factor alone speaks to the women's disproportionate energy and forward momentum that drive outstanding performance. It may also account for the characterization of all-male boards as " pale, male and stale".
Millions of stockholders are women and have the power to question board composition. If they all voted "no" on slates of corporate directors that don't include women, together they'd exert awesome power to propel change.