The key to more female CEOs: More female board members

You've seen the headlines about the lack of female leadership, the challenges women overcome to reach the C-suite and...

Posted: Jun 8, 2018 4:27 PM
Updated: Jun 8, 2018 4:27 PM

You've seen the headlines about the lack of female leadership, the challenges women overcome to reach the C-suite and the dwindling numbers of women at the top.

Some companies are testing out structured mentoring, empowerment programs and ambition summits to fix the problem and correct gender imbalances. But other experts say this may not be a bottom-up problem as much as a top-down one, which begins with a startling lack of diversity on company boards.

Related: Why it matters so much every time a woman CEO leaves

A majority of companies in the S&P 500 have at least one woman on their boards, but only 25% have two, according to a recent study from PwC.

In order for boards to appoint more female CEOs, there first have to be more female board members to vote for them, says Anna Beninger, senior director of research and corporate engagement partner at Catalyst, a non-profit studying women and work.

"It's complicated when you look at the board, but we have to appreciate the incredible influence that they have in determining who is going to be that CEO-level role, and notably, if they stay and how successful they are," she says.

Related: This is what women have to do to become CEO

There's a direct line between diversity on boards and diversity in the C-suite, says Paula Loop, a leader at PwC's governance insights center.

"If you have more diversity on the board, it'll help the talent management oversight role that the board is responsible for," she says. "You'll start to see more push around gender diversity."

Women may be the most vocal advocates for diversity sitting on those boards, according to the PwC study. Women were "notably more likely" than men to consider different factors that could help recruit more minorities and women.

Term limits could also help increase board turnover and free up seats for younger, more diverse candidates, Beninger says.

Loop serves on the board of PwC, her first board appointment. She credits the power of her network with connecting her to the position.

"I think the challenge is that you do have some very talented female executives that would do well on a board, but one of the key enablers to finding a board position is your network," she says. "If you don't have a robust or deep personal network that you can leverage to get onto a board, that'll be a hurdle you have to figure out how to get over."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 78160

Reported Deaths: 953
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah18149245
Washington10929103
Marion9634147
Clackamas672781
Lane450747
Umatilla446850
Jackson401737
Deschutes251715
Malheur245945
Yamhill179717
Linn160023
Polk133219
Douglas98119
Klamath9265
Jefferson87411
Benton8457
Union8098
Morrow6717
Lincoln66515
Josephine5785
Wasco54319
Columbia5394
Coos4533
Hood River4303
Clatsop3730
Baker2914
Crook2446
Tillamook1470
Curry1462
Lake1431
Grant1381
Harney1041
Wallowa723
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler60
Unassigned00
Eugene
Broken Clouds
32° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 26°
Corvallis
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Roseburg
Overcast
38° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 38°
North Bend
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 39°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events