NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- How much influence do women board directors really wield worldwide? Nearly $8 trillion.
WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) – a global community of more than 2,500 directors, and the largest organization of women corporate directors worldwide – recently aggregated the market capitalization of the public companies on whose boards their members serve. They found that the number totaled almost $8 trillion; if WCD were a country, its economy would be the world's third largest, behind only the U.S. and China.
"The impact of this number – which doesn't even include the large private companies our members represent – speaks to the enormous influence WCD members wield in boardrooms globally," says Susan Stautberg, CEO, co-founder, and co-chair of WCD.
$8 trillion represents the total market capitalization of the 3,500+ public companies on whose boards WCD members serve around the world. With more members joining each day, and new chapters opening almost every month, WCD currently has 56 chapters in more than 30 countries.
"WCD has been a game-changer worldwide," says Ms. Stautberg. "From Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to India and Japan to countries in Latin America, Europe, and Africa, our members are writing legislation and working with regulatory agencies such as the SEC to shape policies designed to bring more qualified women on boards."
Leveraging the ROI of women directors
"The WCD analysis shows that diverse boards add value to the companies they oversee – value that often comes in the form of higher returns or improved overall financial performance," says Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications, co-chair of WCD's Global Nominating Commission, and director of Procter & Gamble and Xerox.
"The corporate world would do well to better leverage the WCD asset in a much more significant way," adds Chairman of Avon Products and former CEO and director of Campbell Soup Company Douglas R. Conant. "The evidence of their ability to add value continues to affirm that this remarkable community of women has both a world-class aptitude and an undeniable appetite for contribution."
Harvard Business School's Boris Groysberg, the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration, believes that WCD is playing a key role in the turning point around board diversity. "Many are disappointed with what boards have been able to achieve regarding diversity and inclusion over the last 20 years," he says. "But the numerous efforts of WCD, from helping women get on boards to understanding practices for building more inclusive board cultures, are important as we make progress over the next 20 years."
Using influence to improve board governance
As women directors move beyond token representation and into a position of real power, they can become even greater agents of change, says Henrietta Holsman Fore, co-chair of WCD, co-chair of the Asia Society, and director of ExxonMobil Corp. and other boards. "WCD is working to spread excellence in governance practices to boards globally at a time when boards are facing more complex challenges than ever before."
Boards are being held more accountable by investors for ensuring regulatory compliance – which is more complicated as companies expand into new markets and as governments impose more regulations around financial reporting. But boards are also being charged to take a greater role in corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts beyond what the laws mandate – part of the trend toward deeper engagement with the communities in which companies operate.
"Women have skill sets that make them especially good stewards," Mrs. Wilderotter says. "We listen, we evaluate, we look hard at risk/reward; we have strong ethical boundaries, seek consensus, and look at the big picture. In my experience, those traits translate into a better experience for customers, employees, and shareholders."
Myra Hart, a director of Kraft, former director of Office Depot, and co-chair with Mrs. Wilderotter of WCD's Global Nominating Commission, agrees: "Women corporate directors bring unique knowledge and experience to the boardroom that both broaden and deepen the consideration of key issues."
Taking the reins of responsibility
To improve this director knowledge, WCD hosts a number of events throughout the year and across the globe. "The $8 trillion reach of our membership is both an opportunity and a responsibility. The size of our impact means that WCD members bear the burden – which they embrace – of improving their own skills and capabilities as directors," says Ms. Stautberg. "And as WCD's influence grows, this means that more of these skills can be deployed to effective use in boards across the world."
Upcoming WCD events include:
- Americas Institute – November 7-8, 2013, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL; theme: "Leveraging the Opportunities for Growth in the Interconnected Americas"
- European Institute – Spring 2014
- New Director Seminar – May 13, 2014
- Chair and Lead Director Roundtable – May 13, 2014
- Global Institute and Visionary Awards – May 14-15, 2014
To view an infographic that demonstrates the influence of WCD's $8 trillion voice, please click here.
About WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD)
WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) is the only global membership organization and community of women corporate directors, comprised of more than 2,500 members serving on over 3,500 boards in 56 chapters around the world, with many more slated in the next two quarters. WCD membership provides a unique platform for learning from the intellectual capital of accomplished women from around the world, and WCD's mission is to increase courage, candor, inclusion, and cohesion in the boardroom. In 2012, WCD launched the Global Nominating Commission, a high-level task force of select corporate board nominating committee chairs and members from around the world, as well as CEOs, focused on proactively building diverse boards and candidate slates. KPMG is a Global Partner of WCD. WCD's Founding Partner is Heidrick & Struggles. Strategic Partners include Marriott International and Pearl Meyer & Partners, and WCD Alliance Partners include International Finance Corporation (IFC), JPMorgan Chase, and Northern Trust.
WCD has 56 global chapters, located in Arizona, Atlanta, Beijing, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Chile, Cleveland, Colombia, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gulf Cooperation Council, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, London, Los Angeles/Orange County, Malaysia, Melbourne, Mexico, Milan, Minnesota, Morocco, Mumbai, Netherlands, New York, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern California, Peru, Philadelphia, Philippines, Rome, San Diego, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore, South Africa, South Florida, Switzerland, Sydney, Tennessee, Toronto, Turkey, Washington, D.C, and Western Canada. For more information, visit www.womencorporatedirectors.com.