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Fifteen female leaders from around the world, including one human resource professional, have been chosen as fellows for an initiative designed to prepare female leaders to serve on corporate boards.
The International Women’s Forum (IWF) and the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB) launched On the Board: Advancing Women’s Corporate Board Leadership on Feb. 21, 2013.
It’s been nearly 100 years since Marjorie Merriweather Post (head of the Postum Cereal Co.) became one of the first women appointed to a corporate board, yet women still lag in board appointments. According to the GWSB, the number of women added to corporate boards averages 16 per year. Since 2003, the percentage of women on corporate boards has hovered around 16 percent for
Fortune 500 companies and 17.5 percent for
Fortune 1,000 companies.
“Taking those numbers into account, it immediately becomes clear why On the Board will be truly revolutionary,” said IWF President Deedee Corradini. “When we place all 15 fellows on corporate boards we will nearly double the advances made yearly for the last 81 years. This is monumental progress.”
In addition to Gail McKee, chief human resources officer at Towers Watson, the fellows include:
Each fellow will receive advanced training in board-level leadership practice, corporate strategy and finance, leadership communication and regulatory compliance, value creation, risk assessments, ethical and responsible decision-making, crisis management and corporate finance.
In addition, they’ll receive financial management training to increase their competitiveness and skills for service on board-level audit and compensation committees, according to the GWSB. The fellowship program is organized around residencies in Washington, D.C., throughout 2013 and will include coaching sessions, training and development programs, and social and networking events.
While programs like these can help, female leaders need to be more proactive when it comes to corporate appointments, one expert said. “It’s not just women asking women” to help them move into the boardroom, noted James Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. “It is women being forcible and saying, ‘Here are my qualifications; I’d like you to keep me in mind for a board spot.’ ”
Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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