California-based public companies have until the end of this year to comply with my new favorite law – California Senate Bill 826. This legislation makes California the first state to require that publicly held companies have at least one woman on their boards of directors. By the end of 2021, every public company board with six or more directors will need to ensure that three of their directors are women.
Kudos to Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire and the legion of volunteers from the 11 NAWBO-California chapters for spearheading the bill and blazing a much wider board seat trail for us all. The historic California legislation, which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law last year, was the result of their seven years of steady work, along with help from Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and her associates. Thanks to their efforts, 184 women will join California-based public boards by the end of 2019 – and women will fill a total of 1,060 seats by the end of 2021.
Legislators in New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts have filed similar bills. “I’m hoping that we’ll see passage of these bills within the next two years,” Betsy says. “They’re all waiting to see what will happen in California."
Along with her participation in NAWBO, Betsy is the CEO of 2020 Women on Boards, an organization that is working to ensure that women hold 20% of all corporate board seats by the year 2020. And their work is making a difference. Last month, the group happily announced that women now hold 20.4% of the board seats on publicly traded companies in the Russell 3000 Index. This exceeds the group’s goal a full year ahead of schedule!
And if that weren’t enough, Betsy is also President and Co-Founder of Berkhemer Clayton Inc., a retained executive search firm. Her firm has handled many board searches, so she definitely knows a thing or two about helping companies fill board seats. Betsy’s first book, "The Board Game – How Smart Women Become Corporate Directors," reveals how 58 women directors found their first corporate board seats. Her second book, “Winning the Board Game: How Women Make the Difference,” comes out this month.
We often hear the old, worn-out excuse that companies can’t find enough qualified women to fill their boards. Betsy couldn’t disagree more. “Thousands of women are qualified for these board seats,” she says. “Every woman in the C-suite or a layer below is qualified. And if you’re a CEO of your own company, especially a growth company, you’re qualified, too.”
What kind of expertise are corporate boards looking for?
“Traditionally, boards need people with expertise in finance, operations, international and mergers and acquisitions,” Betsy says. “But what’s new is the need for experts in digital marketing, cyber security and human resources.”
The key, Betsy says, is to expand your network and to let your contacts know that you intend to serve on a board – and that you have experience that brings value. I’ve counseled many of my clients and colleagues to do exactly that. I invite you to read their stories below.
We’re living in an exciting time as we move the dial forward to achieve diversity and parity in leadership positions and in the boardroom. I’m often asked for board candidate recommendations, so if you’d like to serve on a corporate board, let’s chat. I’d like to visit with you and help you position yourself for board service.
Wishing you joy, unfathomable success and an amazing board seat,
PS: If you'd like to go ahead and schedule an appointment with me, please visit my online calendar and choose an option that works best for you.
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