Monday, November 1, 2010

The missing link: Women in the Boardroom

A panel showcasing Susan Engel, CEO,, Barrie Berg, CEO Americas, ?What if!, and Meesha Rosa, Head of Communications with Catalyst’s Corporate Board Services, and moderated by Marie C. Wilson, Founder of The White House Project is no small feat. For Sheila Ronning, CEO and President, Sharp UpSwing who organized the event this was another opportunity to add value to the audience of Women in the Boardroom (, an executive leadership event designed to assist in preparation for board service.
The event took place today (November 1, 2010) at The Park Hyatt in New York and hosted approximately 750 women, all leaders in their industry and all eager to serve. We all enjoyed Marie C. Wilson’s opening remarks on Norway’s legislative mandate to public corporations to recruit more women for their boards ( Running a publicly listed company in Norway five years ago must have been a real drag but today Norway is leading the way in prosperity ( Is there a direct correlation between economic success and female executive leadership? The experts today confirmed there is. They discussed the data, elaborated on its consequences, and recounted personal experiences, which prove that corporate governance in the US today remains opaque and antiquated—in spite of the SEC’s efforts to update the corporate governance process and the meaning of fiduciary responsibility.
Admittedly, women offer a different way of thinking (not better, not worse, just different), a different approach to problems and their solutions, and a superbly qualified profile that has been thriving in executive positions for years. In addition, women’s inclusion on corporate boards offers reassurance that diversity is appreciated and valued. Why aren’t there more women in corporate boards? And when there are, why aren’t they necessarily part of the Compensation, Audit, and Nominating Committees?
Perhaps these are the wrong questions to ask. What would be more interesting than trying to comprehend the internal politics of public companies is to offer the missing link to that part of the industry that usually offers innovation: the private sector. Indeed, the panelists established today that the most active and creative industry in recruiting women for available corporate seats may be private equity and specifically small to mid-cap private equity investors who are constantly looking to equip the boards of their newly acquired companies. This is not to say that women’s presence is palpable or already actively pursued within private equity. On the contrary, what this note offers is a suggestion that perhaps the missing link between private equity investments and their concerted effort to lead private companies to growth is the recruitment of qualified women for Advisory Board or Corporate Board roles.

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