NEW YORK, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As investors and regulators place greater demands on corporations to improve their governance, WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) is recognizing those companies and CEOs who have excelled in their leadership over the past year with its "WCD Visionary Awards." This year, four winners – Unilever, former Pearson CEO Marjorie Morris Scardino, IBM, and SC Johnson – have been tapped to receive Visionary Awards, which were established by WCD in 2011.
"By identifying organizations and leaders who are demonstrating outstanding corporate governance and corporate citizenship, we hope to encourage and inspire companies globally to make the same efforts," says Brenda Gaines, co-chair of the Visionary Awards committee and Director, AGL Resources, Inc., Fannie Mae, Office Depot, Inc., and Tenet Healthcare Corporation. Christie Hefner – Executive Chairman, Canyon Ranch Enterprises and Director, Center for American Progress who co-chairs the committee with Ms. Gaines – adds: "These awards are a signal to Unilever, Pearson, IBM, and SC Johnson stakeholders that these companies are setting a new standard for leadership in the world economy. By prioritizing 'shared value' initiatives and advancing diversity at the highest levels, these are the corporate leaders who are driving some of the most important change we are seeing in business today."
The award winners will be presented at the 2013 Visionary Awards Dinner on May 1, 2013, in New York City, as part of WCD's third annual Global Institute (May 1-2). Awards will be accepted by:
- Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, winner of the Visionary Award for Leadership and Governance of a Public Company
- Marjorie Morris Scardino, former CEO and Director of Pearson PLC, winner of the Visionary Award for Strategic Leadership
- Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Director of IBM, winner of the Visionary Award for Shared Value
- Christine Todd Whitman, Director of SC Johnson, winner of the Visionary Award for Leadership and Governance of a Private Company
Unilever's Mr. Polman explains how his company is cultivating the talent required to advance Unilever's leadership: "We recognise that in order to fulfil our growth ambitions – whilst reducing our environmental impact and increasing our positive social impact – we must have in place a gender-balanced and engaged workforce. Women will account for 63 per cent of university graduates in developed countries by 2025, and we had better fully tap into this pool of talent if we want to survive.
"At Unilever, however, we want women leaders of today. We have established a number of initiatives which underline our commitment to strengthening the representation of women in leadership roles by developing talent and creating an environment in which women can excel. There is more still to be done but we are honoured to receive this award, recognising as it does, our overall commitment to innovative leadership and governance."
The winner of the award for "shared value," IBM is being recognized for its leadership specifically in the area of corporate responsibility – an approach to business that the company helped pioneer. Dr. Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an IBM Director, says of IBM's being named a 2013 winner: "I'm honored to accept this award on behalf of IBM, which has long believed in a strong relationship between corporate citizenship and business strategy."
As the setting for the Visionary Awards presentation each year, WCD's invitation-only Global Institute has become one of the most sought-after events for women corporate directors globally, attracting 250 board members, many of whom are also CEOs, from countries around the world.
The Institute has also provided a launching ground for major governance and diversity initiatives, including the formation of the Global Nominating Commission. A high-level task force of top board nominating chairs and committee members, as well as CEOs, dedicated to actively building diverse boards and candidate slates, the Commission recently released its "Best Practices for Director Selection and Development" to supplement its board education seminars rolling out this year.
"By sharing effective approaches to improving governance and board diversity, such as those exemplified by the success of WCD's Visionary Award winners, the Global Nominating Commission is building a resource of definitive advice for directors and nominating committees around the world," says Susan Stautberg, global co-chair and CEO of WCD and a member of the Global Nominating Commission.
2013 WCD Visionary Awards Selection Committee
- Brenda Gaines – Director, AGL Resources, Inc., Fannie Mae, Office Depot, Inc., and Tenet Healthcare Corporation
- Christie Hefner – Executive Chairman, Canyon Ranch Enterprises; Director, Center for American Progress
- Henrietta Holsman Fore – Global Co-chair of WomenCorporateDirectors; Director of ExxonMobil Corp. and Theravance, Inc.
- Jill Kanin-Lovers – Director of Dot Foods and Heidrick & Struggles
- Mel Lagomasino – Director of The Coca-Cola Company and Avon Products, Inc.
- Robin Smith – Chairman of the Board, Publishers Clearing House; Director, Prudential/Jennison and Target Mutual Funds; Director and Vice Chair, ADLP
- Susan Stautberg – Co-founder and Global Co-chair of WomenCorporateDirectors and President of PartnerCom Corporation
The 2012 Visionary Award winners included Publicis Groupe and Intel as corporate honorees, with DuPont Chair of the Board and CEO Ellen Kullman and Desjardins Group Chair of the Board, President, and CEO Monique Leroux picking up individual honors.
About WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD)
WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) is the only global membership organization and community of women corporate directors, comprised of more than 1,800 members serving on over 2,600 boards in more than 50 chapters around the world. 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. Each year, WCD conducts a Global Board Survey in conjunction with Heidrick & Struggles and researchers from the Harvard Business School. Heidrick & Struggles and KPMG are Global Founding Partners of WCD.
WCD has 52 global chapters, located in Arizona, Atlanta, Beijing, Boston, Brazil, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Colombia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gulf Co-operative 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, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore, South Africa, South Florida, Switzerland, Sydney, Tennessee, Toronto, and Washington DC. For more information, visit www.womencorporatedirectors.com.