More Women on Corporate Boards Impacts All of Us

2020Women on Boards, an advocacy organization of 50 affiliates, including women's groups, institutional investors and high-profile CEOs, is sending out "W" (for "winner") certificates this month to the 496 companies that have 20 percent or more board seats held by women. While this number is a small percentage of all the companies in the country, it does represent a gain of 51 companies in the 2020 database of 1500 companies.

Advocating for more women on corporate boards is gathering steam as the business case for gender-diverse boards is piling up. Research from several reputable and reliable sources, including Credit Suisse, has clearly demonstrated that women and men together make better decisions, which translate into superior corporate performance. That benefits federal, state and local economies, as well as employees and shareholders.

Increased awareness that gender diversity on corporate boards improves business performance has led the California Legislature to pass a resolution urging ALL public corporations in the state to have at least one woman on their boards within three years. There are still 200 of the largest companies in the state that have NO women on their boards.

Advocates are always looking for more companies to honor that value the perspective and business acumen of women, as well as companies that need information and education about the relationship between gender diversity and performance. Women and men who report on business for the media should be more aware of this important issue and survey big companies in their regions to find out the number of women on their boards.

They should also report on the research that makes the business case for the bottom-line value of gender-diversity at the top. Citizens and government should know that when women are added to boards, performance increases along with the tax base. Shareholders should read their proxy statements and advocate for gender-diverse boards.

Many business schools regularly survey companies in their communities. They are a good source of information, especially those who question them about the women in leadership positions, like the UC Davis annual Study of California Women Business Leaders.

With unemployment figures still very disappointing and too many Americans still suffering the effects of our recent depression, our common experience of the last few years should put public company decision-making and performance on the front burner.

We all have a significant stake in an improved economy along with corporate accountability. A diversity of voices making key decisions improves both.