Women on Corporate Boards ‘Makes Good Business Sense’

by George C. Ford/SourceMedia Group News for Eastern IOWA Business, March 13th, 2011.

With few exceptions, corporate boards of directors have historically been composed of white men.

That is changing, although slowly, as more companies — publicly-owned and private — come to the realization that it makes good business sense to involve women and minorities in corporate governance.

The latest Catalyst statistics published in December show that 15.7 percent of Fortune 500 board seats are held by women, up slightly from 15.2 percent in 2008 and 2009. Women made up 46.7 percent of the nation’s labor force in 2009 and 51.4 percent of management, professional and related positions.

What is meant by “good business sense?”

Nancy Hauserman, professor of management and organizations at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, defines good business sense as “having thoughtful people who are providing the broadest view, not only in terms of how they look at issues but what issues they see.”

Nancy Evans, who serves on the boards of directors at Diamond V Mills and Guaranty Bank in Cedar Rapids, said women provide the same oversight that any director would bring in terms of representing shareholders and making sure business is conducted ethically and legally.

“I also think the main reason that you ask community members to serve on your board is to provide a community perspective,” Evans said. “In that sense, diversity on a board of directors brings you a diverse perspective, which is a big asset when making decisions. I would think that a lack of diversity would be a constraint on good decision-making.” (continue reading… )

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