In conjunction with Women’s History Month this March, WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD)—the largest global membership organization of women board members—is taking significant steps to increase the numbers of women on boards worldwide.
WCD initiatives in Asia, Africa, and the Americas over the coming weeks will expand upon the group’s existing 42 global chapters of more than 1,400 members serving on 1,550 boards.
Recent data shows that women are essential to improving world conditions. When a board has a higher percentage than average of women members it points to higher corporate philanthropy with results that bring aid to those needing the most in global assistance.
The September 2011 report called “Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s A Matter of Sustainability” by Harvard Business School along with Catalyst, a leading nonprofit membership organization that works to expand opportunities for women and business, have determined that ‘gender inclusive’ leadership leads clearly to greater CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility.
Data shows that each woman who is added to a corporate board, drives corporate giving up by 2.3 million, a benefit that can work to bring aid for suffering under global poverty and disaster conditions.
Highlights of WCD activity over a 2-week period leading into Women’s History Month include WCD’s new aggressive movement into countries that currently show disparity in the inclusion of women on executive boards.
Some highlights on this WCD buildup of activity include:
- Nigeria – On February 22, WCD launched a chapter in Lagos, marking the third African chapter after South Africa and Morocco.
- Indonesia – February 29th marks the launch of a WCD chapter in Indonesia, supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and the Hills Program on Governance.
- Singapore – On March 2 at the Singapore Stock Exchange, WCD and the IFC will host Southeast Asia’s first-ever OnBoard Bootcamp, with sponsors that include SGX – Singapore Exchange and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, for a one-day intensive seminar that provides an insider’s guide on
how to be selected for a board and shares “lessons learned” from experienced directors and executives.
- The Americas – Directors from throughout the Americas will convene in Palm Beach, FL on March 9 at the newly formed organization called the Americas Institute, with a program focusing on Latin America and its growing priority for corporate boards.
“With over 120 programs and events around the world in 2011, and even more scheduled in 2012, WCD is all about action – taking the steps required to get more women on boards and helping those women become ever more effective directors,” says Alison Winter, co-founder of WCD who is also the current director of Nordstrom, a leading fashion specialty retailer with 225 stores based in the U.S.
Having a local WCD chapter on the ground in a country such as Nigeria gives local women a stronger base from which to negotiate for more women to be brought onto boards and into positions of power within companies outlines Alison Winter.
Many women face numerous challenges in order to reach corporate board membership inside their regions.
“There are distinct challenges that women directors face in emerging regions – from facing a stronger legacy of corrupt systems to working in environments that are more dominated by family-owned or state-controlled enterprises,” says Winter. “These situations create even more of a demand for directors to ‘import’ best practices.”
“Consistent across the globe is the need for a community of trust – a forum that women directors can rely on to deliver the best board opportunities and governance practices,” says Henrietta Holsman, current co-chair for WCD who also serves on the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy as well as the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.