Last May, we wrote about an initiative by D.C. business executive Linda Rabbitt to help jump-start the appointment of women to corporate boards by making a substantial gift to the George Washington School of Business to set up an executive education program to help women get appointed to boards.
We continue to follow the issue closely. Bringing gender diversity to boards is not only the right thing to do from a societal perspective; it is also good business. As a woman-owned law firm that represents many, many women-owned businesses, we strongly believe in the expansion of women’s opportunities in the world of business, large and small.
As recently as this past August, however, the percentage of women on the boards of the Fortune 500 still remained at the stubbornly low figure of 16 percent.
Tomorrow marks an important day in the efforts to increase this number. A group called 2020 Women on Boards (WOB), which has set a goal of upping the percentage of women on boards to 20 percent by the year 2020, is sponsoring a series of events, known as “12/12/12” events, across the nation to focus attention on the problem.
The 12/12/12 events are luncheons that range from large, formal programs to informal meetings in people’s offices. They’re simply ways of starting a conversation about women on boards that is designed to lead to steady change. At least three events are set to take place in the D.C. area – one in Washington, D.C., one in Bethesda, Md., and one in McLean, Va.
Malli Gero, the co-founder and executive director of WOB, has said, “We see 20 percent as a minimum, and for most boards, it translates to about three women directors. But once a board takes the initiative to appoint a woman, they understand the value they add and will likely add more women, when qualified candidates are presented.”
As a woman-owned firm, we are well plugged into the network of successful business women in the D.C. area. We hope that this unusual effort is the beginning of a process that moves the percentage of women on boards to 20 percent or more.