Balancing Gender Diversity in Business.The Global Board-Ready Women Online Databases
Gosh! There sure are a lot of women in my office—I bet there are plenty in yours too. In fact, as of 2011 women made up 62.3% of the American workforce. Does this figure mean that all of the work and struggle to gain equal rights throughout the women’s movement has paid off? Not exactly. While women make up more than half of the American workforce, only 16.6% serve as members of a board of directors—and the number is even smaller in Fortune 500 companies. Things are a little better in Europe with women accounting for 40% of the board in Norway, and 26% in Finland, but we start to taper off in Germany and by the time we reach Italy we’re at a grim 8%. Looks like there is work to do—and online databases are going to help.
Online databases: the great equalizer
In 2012, the European Commission thought it might be fun to change gender imbalances in the workplace and promptly set their sights on company boards. You see, they’d like it if the underrepresented sex—whichever one that might be (it’s nearly always women) made up at least 40% of board members of publicly listed companies in the EU. And they’d like it to happen by 2020. Luckily, the European Business School totally agrees and decided to show their commitment by migrating the Global Board-Ready Women (GBRW) list, a component of the Women on Boards Initiative, to an online database for all to see.
Online Databases are gender blind
All candidates who appear in the Global Board-Ready Women online database are subject to a formal application process that includes rigorous assessment of their skills and qualifications. They are evaluated in accordance with the Call to Action Selection Criteria Guidelines, a set of standards and requirements created by the European Business School, the European Commission and crew of senior executive women.
To appear in the online database, candidates must also have a minimum of five years experience as either the chair of a private corporation, controlling shareholder of boards or large family companies, Director of government agencies or non-profit organizations, a senior partner serving boards or as an entrepreneur. Experienced candidates who meet the guidelines and whose applications are successfully adjudicated are listed as experts-at-the-ready in the online database, their qualifications available for corporations to review.
Getting in on the action
The list and forum are administered by the Financial Times Non-Executive Directors Club, and this online database (the first of its kind) runs as a members-only group on LinkedIn. And with over 8,000 executive experts at their finger tips, companies are getting in on the action. After the GBRW’s launch, BoardEx, the leader in the emerging field of relationship capital management and creator of their very own global leadership database, was quick to get on…well, on board. They struck a deal with the Women on Board Initiative that saw the names included in the GBRW online database appear among the BoardEx profiles providing an additional 500,000 corporations with access to the talent pool.
Only time will tell if women move from the bullpen to the boardroom, but an online database capable of promoting the world’s top female talent in business is a step in the right direction.