NEW YORK, Dec. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Forte Foundation, an organization that differentiates itself by uniting top business schools and leading corporations to advance women in business, today celebrated a milestone as it released its list of Global Board Ready Women as part of an initiative led by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.
The list was announced at an event Forte convened in New York to advance the dialogue on the latest research, regulations and concrete actions to drive gender parity in corporate boardrooms.
Forte joined 27 events on 12/12/12 as part of the 2020 Women on Boards' united call for action to increase the percentage of women on US corporate boards to 20% or greater by 2020. Women now hold 17.1% of the boardroom seats of the Fortune 500, according to the latest 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index released in October.
"We are in a unique position to leverage our relationship with US business schools and corporations to identify women MBA alumni who are board-ready and raise their visibility with leading companies," said Elissa Ellis Sangster, executive director of the Forte Foundation, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. "Many top MBA alumni have the right experience for these roles, but may not be on the radar of leading companies. Working with our business school members and other partners, we aim to not only flag top women who are ready to serve on corporate boards, but to build the pipeline for the future."
Global Board Ready Women
The new US initiative follows Forte Foundation's collaboration with its five European business school members and the European Commission. The successful European initiative led by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding inspired Forte Foundation to approach Commissioner Reding to expand the call for board-ready women to United States business schools.
The European Business Schools Women on Boards Initiative, of which Forte is a member, today announced the formal establishment of the Global Board Ready Women searchable database to respond to global corporate governance needs for more gender diversity on publicly traded company boards. The database of 8,000 women will be available on LinkedIn via a closed group, and each of the individuals selected for the Global Board Ready Women database will be linked with relationship capital management leader BoardEx's database of more than 500,000 corporations and companies.
Forte asked each of its 39 MBA partner schools to supply at least five board ready women and all of its member schools are participating. Forte has 33 member schools in the US, five in Europe and one in Canada. Forte is also considering self-nominations from its membership database of 60,000 professional women and will seek nominations and support from other partners. Forte will make the list available to corporate partners who wish an additional resource in identifying board candidates.
To recommend women for the US board-ready list, and in addition to its initiative with its US business school members, Forte will continue to partner with corporate governance consultant Intrabond Capital, the Watermark community for female executives, and the Women on Boards 2020 campaign to expand the list of board-ready women. Forte is also exploring with its partners, Intrabond Capital and Watermark, the best way to prepare women in the pipeline to be board ready and noted that many of its business school members provide board-member training classes.
12/12/12 Forte Foundation event
Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard opened the event with research demonstrating that as the number of female MBA graduates rises, women's representation in executive positions and corporate boardrooms lags behind.
Dean Hubbard's comments were followed by a panel featuring the following executives who added their diverse perspectives based on their business, board and consulting experience, while reinforcing the positive change already made by companies on MBA campuses:
Julie Hembrock Daum, Co-Head Board Practice & Director, Spencer Stuart
Donna Hamlin, CEO, Intrabond Capital
Stefano Natella, Managing Director and Co-Head of Securities Research & Analytics, Credit Suisse
Joyce Roche, Director AT&T, Tupperware, Macy's, Snapple, and Former CEO, Girls Inc.
Karyn Twaronite, Partner & Americas Inclusiveness Officer, Ernst & Young
Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, participated in the panel remotely.
An audio recording of the event is available upon request.
Research discussed at Forte Foundation event
Ernst & Young LLP, which hosted the Forte event and is a Forte member company, released new research discussed at the event that shows women are joining boards at a higher rate, although the pace of change is slow. Among other findings, it shows that boards with at least one female director are most likely to add more. Of the more than 1,800 directorships currently held by women, nearly 40% joined their respective boards in the last five years, according to Ernst & Young's research.
This progress is important to corporate performance, as recent research from the Credit Suisse Research Institute, discussed at the Forte event, indicates that companies with more women on their boards outperform those with fewer or no female directors. For instance, Credit Suisse found that net income growth over the past six years averaged 14% for companies with women directors compared to 10% for those with no female board members.
To be globally competitive, US companies must do a better job of prioritizing board diversity, the panelists discussed. Some European countries have already adopted board-diversity quotas and the European Commission recently adopted Viviane Reding's proposed European Union law for a 40% "objective" designed to ensure women hold 40% of non-executive board positions by 2020. As non-US companies with more aggressive targets for board diversity begin to tap board-ready women based in the US, this could impact US company efforts to increase board diversity and American competitiveness.
About Forte Foundation
Forte Foundation is a non-profit consortium of leading multinational corporations, top business schools in the US and abroad, and the Graduate Management Admission Council. Its mission is to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities and a community of successful women. Forte is the leading organization that provides a national infrastructure for women at all stages of the career continuum to access the information, scholarship support and networking connections they need to succeed in business careers. Additional information about the Forte Foundation is available online at www.fortefoundation.org.
Lisa Westlake Chen
SOURCE Forte Foundation