Point/Counterpoint: A Civil Dialogue on Legislating for Women on Boards | NAWBO

NAWBO Phoenix members are part of a larger voice with NAWBO that leverages the influence of thousands of women business owners worldwide to transform public policy and influence decision makers. In this role, NAWBO Phoenix strives to bring to light issues that affect the future of women in business of all kinds – corporate to entrepreneur. One path to success for women in their later years is to seek Corporate Board Positions, for which women with entrepreneurial experience are ideally suited. They hold all the skills from all levels of business, but often aren’t aware that board service is an option, or how to go about getting appointed to corporate boards. Keep in mind, the ‘training ground’ for Corporate Board service and paid board positions is often the nonprofit sector, where individuals can dive in, learn the ropes, and prove their worth to Corporate Boards, where a lucrative ‘retirement’ income could come into play for women ready to transition out of day-to-day business but still wishing to contribute to the overall business ecosystem. 

From 2020wob.com: “A corporation is required to have a governing board of directors made up of a group of senior advisors who oversee the activities of a company and represent its shareholders. Every public company must have a board of directors. Private companies are not required to have boards, although many of them do.  For-profit board members often are paid; nonprofit board members usually are not. For-profit board members uniquely attend to decisions about dispersing profits to owners (stockholders) oftentimes in the form of stock equity and dividends. Nonprofit board members do not seek to maximize and disperse profits to the owners — the owners of nonprofits are members of the community. They serve in the interest of public stakeholders. Corporate boards select, appoint, and review the performance of the chief executive and other key executives. They determine the direct compensation and incentive plan for these executives; ensure the availability of financial resources; review and approve annual budgets and company financials; and approve strategic decisions.

In a public company, directors are selected based on criteria set by the nominating committee. Most new directors are chosen for their expertise in key areas that are useful to the corporation. Sometimes, CEOs and board chairs select directors they already know. Or, they will turn to executive search firms to find qualified candidates that meet their search criteria.  Being asked to serve on a corporate board is flattering. It shows that your skills are valued outside of your own organization. Directors meet interesting people and grapple with interesting issues. Independent director are often well paid.  Corporate directors are well compensated, and compensation is often determined by the size of the company. It’s not unusual for corporate directors of large companies to be paid $100,000 or more each year they serve. They often are also granted stock options, which could become very valuable.

There are no rules about board composition. But it is well recognized that diversity on boards contributes to better decision making. Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the ruling known as “The Governance Disclosure Rule” which requires companies to consider diversity when nominating director candidates. There is no standard, however, as to what constitutes a diverse board.”

In April at our monthly meeting, we will enjoy a panel discussion for and against making women on boards mandatory. This discussion is prompted by legislation in California that requires publicly-held companies to have female board members. Our discussion, led by Jordan Rose, will take on both sides of the legislation issue. While legislating for this diversity can be effective, are we traversing into government mandates in private industry, and how effective is mandating, anyway? What are the benefits of board diversity, and why would companies hesitate to include women in the boardroom in a meaningful way. Is mandating meaningful? 

These questions and more will be the topic, and throughout, we’ll be watching Civil Dialogue instead of heated name-calling!

Join us April 11th at Gainey Ranch Golf Club for this moderated dialogue with Jordan Rose of the Rose Law Group, Kina Harding of The Harding Firm and the Arizona Black Bar, and Susan Schultz of the Board Institute and Women on Boards 2020. This month is sure to get your mind going!

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