Women on Boards- Point / Counterpoint for Legislating Women on Boards | NAWBO

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Women on Boards- Point / Counterpoint for Legislating Women on Boards

This dialogue is in preparation for the April 10th business program, “The Future is Female”, 11a-1p. The program will be moderated by Jordan Rose, of the Rose Law Group and will feature Kina Harding of The Harding Firm and the Arizona Black Bar who opposes the legal requirement of a Board seat. It will also feature Susan Schultz, of the Board Institute and Women on Boards, who supports the measure.

Here is our pair of dueling blogs that address the different point of view.

The View against the measure by NAWBO President Ronit Urman

If we want a board seat, we should earn it.

If we want equality in the board room, we need to get there with our brains, not a quota. As we always stress at NAWBO, women need to network. Who you know will get you in the door. What you know will keep you there. This legislation takes us backwards.

Forcing companies to accept women is government overreach. What’s next? Are we to legislate board assignments (and hiring in general), by age, ethnicity, orientation or gender identity?

The truth is, it’s just good business to hire the most capable person for a job or a board seat- regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. We want equal opportunity under the law- not a quota mandated by the law.

We need to educate our young people to get a leg up on their competition for jobs with education. We need to encourage our young women to consider fields where math, science and engineering are prevalent. That’s what gets you in the door. That’s what gets you in the board room.

I think back to my early days in the board room. I was involved with all aspects of the financials. I often faced boardrooms filled with only middle aged men. Often they did not address questions to me, only my husband or other male in the meeting disregarding that I was the expert in the matter. So, I overcame these obstacles by being the most knowledgeable on the subject, strong and used humor. I made sure that I was well prepared and moved forward with confidence and earned their respect.

We are so lucky that we live in the 21st century in the US. Where we as woman have all the legal right as our male counterparts. We can do it on our own we should not need the government to mandate on our behalf.

The View in favor of the measure by NAWBO Board member Jean Briese

Why Mandate Women on the Corporate Board

If we lived in an ideal world, we would not need legislation that mandates women on corporate boards. Unfortunately, this is not our reality.

Women earn 60% of all undergraduate degrees yet are only 27% of college presidents. We earn 48% of all medical degrees, yet only 16% of medical school deans are women. We earn 47% of all law degrees, yet only 22% are partners in law firms. We are 48% of the workforce, 49% of the college-educated workforce, yet only 34% of senior management roles. We are 50.8% of the US population, yet there are only 6 female governors (3%) in the US.

Fortune 500 companies with the highest percentage of women on the board deliver 66% greater ROI. Retail stores with gender diversity throughout the leadership team delivered 14 % higher revenue growth and 19% higher quarterly profits. For those corporations who add women to the board, the statistics show a 15% rise in profitability. There are 6% women in sales in tech companies, yet it has been shown that women in sales deliver 15x higher average revenue.

The evidence is clear.  Women serving on boards is good for our economy. It’s good for all of us.  The most profitable companies have women in leadership and gender diversity throughout the organizations. And yet, women are underrepresented in corporate America in every category!

History teaches us that the way to change this is to mandate it.  We couldn’t vote until we forced it. We couldn’t sign for a business loan until it was forced. We got zero government contracts before it was mandated. It used to be legal to rape and beat your wife before legislation forced the issue to make it illegal. Nothing is given and we have already earned this through proving that boards that include women do better... but it isn’t changing things nearly enough. Once we are in the room, we can change attitudes through proving our worth... but waiting to be invited is not working. If we waited to be invited to vote it still would be a dream.  The time in now to mandate change.

*Statistics from updated version of “The Women’s Leadership Gap,” published on August 4, 2015.