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ESG & Diversity
Dottie Schindlinger Image
Host
Dottie Schindlinger
Executive Director, Diligent Institute

Championing Modern Leadership

Summary:

In this episode of The Corporate Director Podcast, get insights from the latest Diligent Institute global report on boardroom diversity and hear from Edie Fraser, CEO of the Women Business Collaborative, as she discusses her organization’s Companies of Purpose Initiative.

In This Episode:

  1. Becoming a Boardroom Diversity Champion: Fraser shares how her career trajectory led her to becoming a diversity champion.
  2. About Women Business Collaborative: Fraser shares some of the work her organization is doing to shine a spotlight on improving diversity in the boardroom.
  3. The Future of Diversity: Fraser predicts how board diversity may continue to evolve.

Becoming a Boardroom Diversity Champion

Fraser starts off by sharing a bit about her background and how that led her to find her passion for diversity: “I was out to change the world on a global scale. First, I came to Washington and joined the Peace Corps and became a desk officer for Africa for five years. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I spent the next couple of years travelling around and determining what we could do to advance racial equity."

She continues, “I got really involved with the private sector and worked for a worldwide PR firm. I then started my own firm in 1975 and spent over 35 years spent supporting gender and diversity in the corporate world at the time no one understood the role of Chief Diversity Officers.”

She connects this to the work of the Women Business Collaborative (WBC): "In May 2019, we got the first 26 women business organizations together to sign a commitment to women leadership. Now, we have 73 women business organizations committed to the cause."

About Women Business Collaborative

Fraser expands further on WBC's work around corporate diversity: “To champion the cause of diversity, we have two types of reports. Our annual report is published in collaboration with 27 board groups and specifically with 50/50 Women on Boards. We also have a monthly report conducted in partnership with Equilar where we track female appointments joining public boards."

She continues: “After Nasdaq and the state of California began putting forward rules and laws around board diversity, we saw a marked increase in the percentage of women, especially first-time directors, joining boards.

We are also seeing increases in the level women of color being appointed to boards as well."

"What organizations like WBC Diligent do helps drive the change and influence progress. It's also important to focus on diversity on private and venture capital boards as well as the boards of public companies." -Edie Fraser, CEO, Women Business Collaborative

The Future of Diversity

Edie concludes with thoughts on how the boardroom diversity picture could look in the next decade: “The complexion of public boards today is changing, and more women and women of color are being added to the boardroom. The trick is to ensure we also begin to see progress with non-public companies too."

She continues: “Private boards in particular need a lot of work, as they have no disclosure requirements and lag their public counterparts as a result. The same goes for venture capital boards. It's also important to consider other elements of diversity outside of race and gender, looking at things like age diversity as well."

"As female directors continue to trend younger than their male counterparts, and as male director also work to uplift diversity in the boardroom, we will see more progress." -Edie Fraser, CEO, Women Business Collaborative

Also in This Episode...

Kira Ciccarelli, Lead Research Specialist and Edna Twumwaa Frimpong, Director of International Research at Diligent Institute (and also producers of this show) join to shed light on Diligent Institute's first inaugural Modern Leadership report, conducted in partnership with 22 organizations on the state of diversity in boardrooms globally. Ciccarelli gives more background on the report's conception: "Through our diversity initiatives at Diligent, we have had the opportunity to work with many organizations that also put out great research on boardroom diversity. Our goal was to combine all of these efforts into one, comprehensive project to better tell the story of boardroom composition and diversity worldwide on both public and private companies."

Commenting on some of the findings of the report, Frimpong adds, "Gender diversity is one aspect of diversity that is trending in the right direction, but only when you look at it globally. Once you peel off the layers to a regional level, there is a lot of unevenness. In particular, areas with quotas and targets around diversity in the boardroom outperform regions that do not have any such regulations."

Resources in This Episode:

Guests
Edie Fraser Image
Edie Fraser
CEO, Women Business Collaborative

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