From left: Liz Huebner, Dawn Lepore, Patty Bedient, and Phyllis Campbell each sit on one or more corporate boards. They discussed increasing board diversity at an event in Seattle this week. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)
Ask for what you want. Intentionally build your network. Start small. Be patient.
Those are a handful of tips that four women on corporate boards shared with a packed house at an event in Seattle on Thursday. Speaking at the 2019 National Conversation on Board Diversity, board directors Patty Bedient, Phyllis Campbell, Liz Huebner, and Dawn Lepore discussed strategies to expand the number of women in corporate governance.
It’s a timely issue. Despite increased scrutiny of board diversity over the past decade, progress has been slow. Between 2010-2018, the percentage of women on the boards of Fortune 500 companies increased modestly from 15.7 percent to 22.5 percent, according to a study by Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity. The percentage of minorities holding board seats at those companies went from 12.8 percent in 2010 to 16.1 percent in 2018.
The Seattle event brought together women who have successfully landed board positions and aspiring directors to explore ways to increase diversity at the top. The panelists agreed that women should first identify the type of board they want to join and figure out what they can bring to the table.
“You have to ask yourself, do I really want to do the work,” said Lepore, the former CEO of Drugstore.com who now sits on several boards including Accolade, loanDepot, and RealNetworks. “Do I think I have something to add? Will I be able to both contribute and learn? You have to be really honest with yourself. Look yourself in the mirror and say, what can I add to a board right now? And maybe your answer is, right …read more