CAMBRIDGE, Mass. /eNewsChannels/ — Out of its commitment to having women on Boards, WEST: Advancing Women in Science and Technology hosted an executive dinner on June 6, 2012 at the Hotel Marlowe Cambridge. The topic of this program was a panel discussion on “The Economic Impact of Women on Boards.”
WEST Executive Director, Ilene Fischer honored and acknowledged 26 Massachusetts companies that have 20 percent or more women on their board.
The companies with the most percentage of women on board are as followed: Cambridge Bancorp with 41 percent women on their board and Hologic with 38 percent. It also includes American Tower Corporation, Avid Technology, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Commonwealth Financial Network, Talbots, The TJX Companies which all have 33 percent women on their board. Cubist Pharmaceuticals, along with Boston Private Financial Holdings have 30 percent. Other companies that were acknowledged were: Eaton Vance Corporation with 29 percent, Akamai Technologies and Boston Scientific Corporation with 27 percent, Biogen Idec and Staples with 25 percent of women on their board, Century Bancorp and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company with 23 percent, Abt Associates, Boston Properties, Courier Corporation, Water Corporation, and ZipCar with 22 percent, Alkermes, Charles River Pharmaceuticals, and Five Star Quality Care with 20 percent women on their boards.
After Executive Director of WEST, Ilene Fischer acknowledged those Massachusetts companies with 20 percent or more women on boards, a lively discussion about the Economic Impact of Women on Boards ensued with the following panelists: Steven Grossman, Massachusetts State Treasurer; Stephanie Sonnabend, founder of Women on Boards 2020 and President Sonesta Hotels; Linda Whitlock, lead director of Cambridge Trust, and Pat Flynn, trustee and professor of Economics at Bentley University.
The discussion was moderated by Kim Zeoli, who is the senior partner of Deloitte and Touche LLP’s National Business Risk Advisory Practice.
A majority of the women who attended the Executive Women’s Dinner participate on non-profit boards, while only a dozen stated they participated on corporate boards.
The key question of the evening was – “Why is gender equality important on corporate boards?”
According to Linda Whitlock, the lead director of Cambridge Trust, gender equality is important on corporate boards because “the company sees more profitability and a higher return on investment where there are more women on boards.” In addition, Whitlock also says, “diversity on boards encourages better decisions because there are multiple perspectives in play.”
Steven Grossman, Massachusetts State Treasurer also believes that gender equality on board is important. In response, Grossman says, “We are not only maximizing our interests but also our values.” Referring to the extraordinary performance of those companies with three or more women on their board, treasurer Grossman said “Words are words, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.” To impact getting more women on boards Grossman reminded the audience “You can effectuate change by standing on the table and being an equity partner.”
Stephanie Sonnabend, founder of Women on Boards 2020 is also another strong activist for gender equality on board. She says, “Women tend to think more long-term rather than short-term. They think more holistically, and socially. Women also tend to evaluate risk in comparison to men. It makes good business sense.”
The evening was extremely successful. The attendees realize that the lack of women on boards is a pressing issue.
To solve this issue, Sonnabend says, “We need to stick together and advocate for each other.”
At the end of the evening Grossman reflects, “The fact that there is an inadequate pool of women who are qualified to be on boards is absolutely ludicrous.”
WEST: Advancing Women in Science and Technology is a 501(c)3 Massachusetts based non-profit. WEST’s mission is to promote, advance, and develop women in Science, Engineering, and Technology as leaders, advocates, C-level executives and thought leaders that make a profound difference in the communities they serve.
WEST is a community and a forum, for early, mid-career, executive and entrepreneurial women. Through participation our members become inspirational leaders and role models for their teams, organizations and businesses. More information: http://www.westorg.org.
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