Last week, I attended a special event about “Women on Boards”, and it was quite interesting to listen to three successful women and Board members. Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, CEO of 2020 Women on Boards National Campaign led the discussion, and Jan Buchan, former CEO of PAAMCO and Julie Hill, Anthem Board member were panelists. What I found most interesting is that the Board topics were the same as what I hear from men yet their experiences were quite different.
It was interesting to hear their stories as it reminded me of attending Board meetings as a VP of Operations and Supply Chain with our private equity backers. I was typically the only woman with many men, and I’ll never forget when one of my Directors pointed that out to me, and I didn’t notice it until he did. The conversation also reminded me of a speech by Maureen Berkner Boyt about female leaders. I thought Maureen made a compelling argument that related to bottom line results.
In essence, there is a shortage of talent, especially as the baby boomers retire, and the companies that embrace female leaders will be more successful. She cited statistics – female leadership leads to 22% less turnover (which is a BIG bottom line impact), 66% better return on invested capital (with 3 female Directors), 42% return on sales, 2% more cash and more. Now that is quite compelling and worth paying attention! When I joined my global consulting strategy group, our leader thought I would add to the group with my diversity. I thought it was just something he said at the time but I found it to be true. We have had other women come and go and they have added a unique view, and I came to appreciate that our insights can be somewhat different from the norm and can turn 2+2 into 16.
Are you thinking about attracting – and keeping – strong female leaders and potentially adding them to your Board? You don’t have to take away men to incorporate this idea. Why not add a strong female Board member?
One tip to implement this week:
With that said, you don’t have to start by thinking about adding women to your Board. Perhaps just start at the beginning. Do you think you’ll gain value by different viewpoints and ideas? It might stir the pot – which can cause some challenges yet can also take you to a new level of performance. If you think you’ll give it a chance, it makes a lot of sense to start at square one. Can you attract women to your organization and KEEP them? Are you able to provide them with career paths that will be interesting? If not, we better start there. Do you have mentors? How can you change the culture to support this initiative?
I’ve found that simplicity “works”. Why not ask them what would be attractive? Talk to your best performers and find out what would compel them to stay and grow with your organization. It isn’t rocket science yet it isn’t easy to implement. If it were, everyone would just “check that box”. You can’t go wrong by giving it some thought. Worst case, results are likely to increase.