In 40 Years You’ll Have Terminator Vision, But it’s Doubtful Women will See Equal Representation in the Boardroom

It’s hard to image the disruption that will change the world in 40 years!

Popular Mechanics predicts:

  • contact lenses will grant us “Terminator” vision,
  • vaccines will wipe out drug addiction,
  • vertical farms will feed cities,
  • Navy Seals will be able to hold their breath for 4 hours,
  • nanobots will perform medical procedures inside our bodies.

bionic-eye-implant-future

But, while the world will have thousands of amazing changes, it’s unlikely that women will achieve equal representation on S&P 1500 boards within 40 years according to a GAO study released this week.  If 50% of their new board seats were filled by women, which has just been proposed as a goal by The Conference Board Committee on Economic Development, a proportion more than twice what it currently is, it would take until 2056 for an equal number of women and men.  The GAO report looked into why women are making such slow progress. One obstacle is that since 1988 board seat turnover among the S&P 1500 has only been about 4 percent.  In 2014 just 614 seats of the more than 14,000 total were filled with someone new. One troubling answer seems to be that once a company appoints one or two women to a board, it seems to feel that its mission of diversifying is accomplished.

The General Accounting Office study was done at the request of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, who is now promising legislation in the coming weeks modeled after “comply or explain” policies in Australia and Canada.  She has asked the SEC to require companies to change their 2009 requirement to disclose their policy on board diversity in their proxy statements to specifically disclose their gender diversity policy in picking new board candidates.

Investor groups like the 30% Coalition and 2020 Women on Boards are putting pressure on companies to increase the number of female directors, but that alone can’t change the picture.  It will take a combination of outspoken CEOs raising the issue’s profile, active support for women by executives and board members, and the building-out of more resources that help companies identify qualified women directors. If more companies set term or age limits, it would prompt more turnover and, therefore, bring in more women, younger board members, which would result in more innovative thought.  In a world where we’re looking at changes of the magnitude that Popular Mechanics predicts for the next century, don’t you agree that it is time to have a lot more new thinking in the boardroom?

Women2Boards focuses on on helping smaller companies find women that can add value to their board.  These firms have a fewer  number of women directors than the S&P 1500.  If your board is looking to bring new viewpoints to your board, we urge  you to make sure to expand your search to include at least a few women in your candidates.   We can help you find these candidates through our network of board-qualified women.

About the Author

Nancy Sheppard
Nancy E. Sheppard - Founder & CEO, Women2Boards. Nancy has a passion for helping connect people for mutual benefit. She founded Women2Boards in 2014 as a way to assist both corporate boards and women connect and improve gender diversity. Read More

5 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Dale Biron says:

    Nancy, What a great and helpful context to explain this challenge. I totally agree that it is time for new and more creative thinking in the boardroom. Just as it is time for many more woman on boards. Thanks for the work you are doing in this critical area! Dale Biron

  2. Grace Schalkwyk says:

    This was brilliant! I am stealing it, with attribution of course.

  3. Sarah says:

    I dunno. Sometimes these things happen suddenly and rapidly. People who hold progress back are like human bannisters. They cling onto something while they get pushed into the future.

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