Diverse boards of directors are good for businesses. The 2020 Women on Boards national campaign for public awareness and advocacy strives to get this message through to the entire business community by way of seminars, workshops and published material, all backed by real-world statistics.
On Nov. 15, the group is hosting the National Conversation on Board Diversity at 23 locations around the world, including both San Francisco and Sacramento, to help open critical dialogue on the topic among men and women.
The 2020 Women on Boards mission has been to increase the number of women on U.S. company boards to 20 percent or greater by the year 2020. That 20 percent among Fortune 1000 companies was met three years ahead of schedule, so now the organization has set its sights on extending that 20 percent goal to the Russell 3000 to include smaller companies.
The National Conversation events will provide statistics, including how many board seats women gained in companies on the Russell 3000 Index in 2018, and how various industrial sectors and states have fared with their diversity efforts. Speakers, including board directors and industry leaders, will share their viewpoints and personal experiences in corporate governance.
By now, business leaders in California should be aware of Senate Bill 826. It has been five years since the Legislature passed a resolution urging public companies to have a minimum number of women on their boards, but resolutions have no enforcement. The changes that were, for years, hoped to take place on boards of directors, never materialized to any degree of significance. With Governor Brown signing SB826 into law this year, a shift has taken place.
The bill requires publicly held corporations in California to have at least one woman on their boards by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, the bill requires corporations to have two women on their boards for boards with five directors, and three women for boards with six or more directors.
Now that it has become state law, those of us doing business in the state have to ask ourselves, “Now what?” That is why conversation is so critical. Change is here, and it’s up to us to take the next steps.
Research indicates companies with more women board directors experience higher financial performance. On Nov. 15 in Sacramento, experts in developing highly effective boards will dig into the financial performance and diversity relationship. Presenters will share insights to board preparation and selection processes in workshop sessions, including Implicit Bias/Advantage Blindness, Impact Investing, and Diversity in How We Solve Problems.
Individuals in support of and opposed to SB826 should attend the National Conversation on Board Diversity. Not only will you be able to hear the perspectives of women directors, but you’ll be able to share yours — this is a conversation, after all. Dialogue is what will help us all implement the new law to our best advantage.
SB 826 is only one approach to address the lack of representation for women on corporate boards.
Other methods have been implemented and certainly others will come in the future. We need to keep talking and, more essentially, keep listening to those at the center of these important issues. At the National Conversation, you’ll be able to hear from CEOs, corporate directors, general counsel, and governance experts about the many fronts to this topic.
Erica Dias, MBA, is the 2020 WOB Sacramento Campaign Committee chairwoman and is a business owner and adjunct college professor.
Events: Nov. 15, 7-11a.m., San Francisco Fairmont Hotel; Nov. 15, 12-2 p.m., Sacramento Sutter Club. Register at www.2020WOB.com.