Women on Boar...

Women on Boards

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By Andrea Howick                        www.whereparentstalk.com

Earlier this month, I had the honour of attending an event organized by a dynamo of a woman. Caroline Codsi has a full plate at her day job in career management. On top of that she finds time to sit on charity boards and mentor young professionals, all while juggling a busy personal life. The event was called “Women on Boards” and it was meant to highlight the under-representation of women on corporate boards of directors. She organized this event because it is of paramount importance to us as women and mothers.

Above: Caroline Codsi and Andrea Howick at the Women on Boards event in Montreal May 3, 2010

Consider these numbers: Women represent 51% of the population, make 70% of the buying decisions and only 12% sit on corporate boards. The goal of the event, attended by 150 professional women of all stripes, was to allow for networking and put this issue on the agenda. Because while many of us are accomplished, trained and ambitious, women are still under-represented in the corporate board room.

As women and mothers to an upcoming generation of girls and future leaders, I thought the event and her speech were of critical importance. The below is an excerpt from the speech she gave. Kudos Caroline. Let’s take our place in the board room, ladies!

Many would agree that gender representation is a valuable ideal, and that it is important that the bodies that provide oversight and direction to our organizations should reflect the diversity of our society. But does the presence of women on an organization’s board measurably impact the organization’s performance?

Of course, economic and organizational research would suggest the answer is yes, it does make a difference to have women onboard. Research has shown a positive impact of women directors on: stakeholder representation; financial measures (including increased sales, valuation, and return on investment); on the organization’s leadership capacity; and on governance effectiveness. There are good and bad director’s both male and female.

Being a good director isn’t about gender. Instead, it’s about bringing an experienced, critical eye to the table to provide good governance and to help the organization mitigate risk. Call to Action for women wanting to contribute as Board Directors:

  • Start by enhancing your relevant business expertise particularly with ownership over a specific P&L. Without significant financial and business acumen, you are far less likely to be a credible candidate for a Board. Enhance your capabilities with governance education
  •  Enroll in one of several board certification programs and increase your governance savvy.
  • Use high probability paths to the corporate board table, emphasizing corporate, entrepreneurial or investment experience complemented by experiences in large non-profit organizations and government and academic committees
  • Make your interests and abilities known by networking with people who are already on corporate boards. Get actively involved in work where your skills will be on display.