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Want More Women on Boards? Make Them Easier to Find

Source | LinkedIn : By Katie Couric

From journalists and filmmakers, to doctors and executives, I’m always impressed by the work my friends do. And if you don’t already know Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, you definitely should get to know her – and her job. Not only is she a wife, mother, friend, and tech executive – she’s also a fearless entrepreneur – and one who wants to help find solutions for the challenges in the tech industry. Sukhinder created a solution for one of those challenges (the gender gap in tech) — theBoardlist. I was so curious to learn more about it and had so many questions – I had to get answers.

Why did you start theBoardlist?

I founded theBoardlist because I was tired of all the negative commentary on women in tech, and even more so by the lack of solutions being offered.  I believe that more participation of women at every level in tech, and other industries in general, is going to improve business performance. That includes the board room.

What are the statistics? Why are so few women on boards?

The biggest issue we see is familiarity. Based on research together with our partners, we estimate that 75%+ of private company boards do not have a female board member in the tech industry. In a more recent research, only 50% of founders and CEOS believe there are enough qualified female board candidates, while 80% believed there were enough qualified male board candidates.

 We think the key issue is discovery. More specifically -– the lack of familiarity CEOs may have to a wide enough network of highly qualified female candidates who can serve as board members. When we ask CEOs and founders, they tell us that they use investor and their own networks to source board candidates. If these networks themselves aren’t diverse, that can exacerbate the issue. CEOs tell us that the time to source and ability to connect with qualified candidates are their biggest hurdles to filling independent board seats with women.

 I know you said the same names get recycled over and over again, why is that?

The networks many CEOs and founders are using today are simply too narrow. For many very fair reasons, primarily time and resources, leaders tend to go to their own personal networks or investors’ networks for board candidates. If those networks only include women who are already serving on boards with them, then those women are already time constrained. If existing board members and or/investors are themselves mostly male, their own networks may be less diverse also.

 We need to enable trusted discovery of the broader pool of highly talented women leaders for board roles.

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