Secretary Pritzker Says Increased Gender Diversity in Corporate Boardrooms is Vital to Economic Success
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker addressed the urgent need to boost our companies’ economic competitiveness by bringing more women into corporate leadership at the Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom, hosted by the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Pritzker noted that this pressing challenge of addressing the of a lack of women in corporate leadership is nothing new in American business. Female advancement in corporate America is stagnant. Women hold less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Women hold less than 17 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies. And 10 percent of these companies have no women on their boards at all.
Women in corporate leadership roles is not solely a women’s issue. Secretary Pritzker argued that it is an issue of economic competitiveness and the presence of more women in the boardroom is critical to companies’ creativity, performance, and ability to thrive in the 21st century. Leadership with diverse and different backgrounds typically mean more creativity, fresh ideas, and better outcomes.
To increase the number of women in the boardroom, Secretary Pritzker recommended five steps to integrate gender diversity into corporate DNA:
- Engage men in senior leadership to look outside their known circle of colleagues.
- Develop deliberate strategies for recruitment, including establishing a rule that a board’s nominating committee must consider at least one woman per opening.
- Review the impact of internal policies on female employees, including sick, family, medical, and maternity leave, then change then where appropriate.
- Ensure equal opportunities for mentoring and professional development.
- Measure and disclose company’s diversity statistics and couple that with action.
Secretary Pritzker committed herself to highlighting the issue of women in the boardroom, tout solutions, and advance diversity. She promised to continue to call on leaders to act – in government and in business and she will highlight companies that set the example, recruit more women to join their boards, and take action to improve their reputations and their bottom line.
Secretary Pritzker concluded, “When women have a voice in corporate leadership, American companies thrive and the American economy prospers. When women have a seat in the boardroom, American business succeeds.”