The business case for diversity in the boardroom is compellingly clear.
Research shows large companies with women on their boards significantly outperform comparable businesses with all-male boards. Companies with gender-diverse boards also have fewer financially damaging controversies, such as fraud, corruption and shareholder battles.
Yet despite the evidence of the positive impact of gender diversity in C-suites and boardrooms, progress has been too slow. According to the Spencer Stuart Board Index, 30% of all S&P 500 directors in 2021 were women, compared to 28% in 2020, and 16% a decade ago. While we can celebrate reaching the 30% milestone, at this pace women still have a long time to go before they hold 50% of the board seats of the biggest publicly traded US companies.
Public companies get the most scrutiny, so it is not surprising that the boards of high-growth, privately held businesses are even less diverse. The 2021 Study of Gender Diversity in Private Company Boardrooms found women held only 14% of the 3,437 board seats at 500 venture-backed private companies that have $140 billion in funding and over 180,000 employees.
These privately held high-growth companies are often the industry disrupters driving innovation, so it is concerning that their directors remain overwhelmingly male. We need to accelerate the pace of change.
Later this month, the 8th Annual New Jersey Women Business Leaders Forum, powered by NJBIA, will bring hundreds of women and men together for the state’s largest professional women’s conference to inspire and empower women to advance their careers and increase diversity in corporate leadership.
This two-day event on Sept. 28 and 29 at Caesars Atlantic City features inspiring executive TED-style talks with leading executives, dynamic breakout sessions to help achieve professional success, extensive networking opportunities, and one-on-one coaching sessions. Résumé building, LinkedIn profile makeovers and the option to have a photographer provide professional headshots will be available as well.
There are more than 40 prominent New Jersey women who will be speaking at this event, including retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, who is now a partner at McCarter & English; and self-made entrepreneur Marjorie Perry, the CEO of MZM Construction & Management Co. who speaks to women at professional conferences throughout the US on how to successfully navigate shark-filled waters in the world of business.
Also sharing their insights will be Brenda Ross-Dulan, founder and managing principal of The Ross-Dulan Group; Mollie Marcoux Samaan, commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association; Carol Stillwell, president & CEO of Stillwell-Hansen, and Nikki Sumpter, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Atlantic Health System.
I hope you will join us at this incredible event. To learn more, or to register to attend, go to www.njbia.org/wblf2022.
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