Women on Corporate Boards


BoardroomWhen you think about someone who serves on a corporate board, you don’t generally think of a woman. The research shows that there are indeed very few women who serve on corporate boards.

Organizations like Catalyst and Harvard have published studies with a focus on statistics and details by type of company and a comparison of geographic differences. To put it mildly, the news is not uplifting. The percent of women corporate board members to total board members is in the single digits. In fact, the news is so depressing that these esteemed organizations have decided to find a way out, or a positive approach to tackling this problem.

Harvard, for example, has done research that shows that corporations with women board members can excel because women think differently than men and can add to enterprise value. Catalyst explores appealing to men to focus on bringing women onto boards. Yet another esteemed organization, The Global Economic Forum, studies how companies with women board members perform better in various ways compared to companies with no women board members.

In my own limited, non-scientific and, frankly, ill-informed survey I have found that the few women who serve on corporate boards are in fact superhero, extraordinary women. But based on my personal experience, many of the men who serve on corporate boards are relatively ordinary men – definitely not superheroes. So, I have wondered why there is such a large disparity in the type and quality of the women who serve on corporate boards versus the men who serve on corporate boards.

My personal point of view is that many women are not offered the opportunity to serve on corporate boards. They are not invited because the men who currently serve on corporate boards don’t think of asking the women. They ask their buddies.

As to developing an approach to solving the problem, I think the Broads Circle approach to getting on a corporate board should be an individual goal and not an issue to address for our whole gender. If ten Broads Circle members decide that they are going to make it a goal to get on a corporate board, and then achieve that goal, the numbers and percentages will change for women as a whole (and look much more encouraging for women who follow).

Along those lines, I have decided that it is my personal goal to serve on a corporate board. I plan to work on this goal by better preparing myself for this role and actively seeking an opportunity to serve on a corporate board.

Below are the steps for my personal plan and I hope it will motivate you to create your own action plan:

Step 1.  I am going to tell everyone I know that I want to serve on a corporate board and tell them my qualifications: CPA, MBA in Finance, outspoken, served on non-profit boards, on Audit Committee, and as Treasurer.

Step 2.  I am going to try to meet people who are on corporate boards and could direct me on how to become a board member.

Step 3.  I am going to target a few achievable opportunities perhaps with smaller private companies, and begin the lobbying campaign.

Step 4.  I am going to expect results within 5 years.

At Broads Circle, our point of view is that the money and power institutional barriers to achievement for women are largely gone, and that in order to achieve money and power, we as women just need to reach for it. (I know that my perspective may not be totally accurate, but I believe that it is the optimistic and positive view of this issue, and in fact more right than wrong).

You may argue on this point with me at any time. Email kim@broadscircle.com and schedule a time for us to debate.

But if you would like instead to take some time to focus on a goal of getting yourself onto a corporate board, contact Kim regarding the Broads on Boards initiative of 2010.

To our mutual success,
Darya Allen-Attar
Broads Circle Founder and Chairwoman

Driving Revenue and Building Capital for Women

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