By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.
March 8, 2020
Image Source: #EqualEverywhere
As we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020 with its #EachForEqual campaign, I am discouraged to realize that not much has changed over the years. Progress on gender equality on boards has been painfully slow. It’s 2020 and yet women are not equal to men in board leadership. This despite the fact that the business case for equality for women on boards has long been made.
Global nonprofit Catalyst reports that men still overwhelmingly dominate corporate boards. In 2018, it disclosed that women only held 24% of S&P 500 board seats and only 22.5% of Fortune 500 board seats.
Same with nonprofit boards. According to the Nonprofit Quarterly, women only comprise 43% of the board. That number drops down to 33% if the nonprofit has revenues of at least $25 million. The writing on the wall is clear. “The richer the organization, the less gender diversified its leadership”, it observed.
Why are we not moving fast enough on gender equality? The Canadian government’s Women on Board report offers some underlying reasons:
Some of you may be asking: Why should we have more women on boards anyway? And that’s a fair question.
Harvard Business Review answers this question pointedly:
“Experts believe that companies with women directors deal more effectively with risk. Not only do they better address the concerns of customers, employees, shareholders, and the local community, but also, they tend to focus on long-term priorities. Women directors are likely to be more in tune with women’s needs than men, which helps develop successful products and services.”
The IWD 2020 celebration calls us to take urgent action through its #EachforEqual campaign. Action that will move the needle faster on gender equal boardrooms. Action that will support women who take on board roles in the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors.
Some examples of what each of us can do to achieve a gender equal boardroom include:
So let’s all be #EachforEqual as we each take action to create a gender equal boardroom. As the IWD 2020 Campaign so eloquently declared:
"Equality is not a women's issue, it's a business issue."