c3PR Helps ION Increase Credibility, Attract Media Attention with Guys Who Get It

As industry organizations go, ION is unusual. The InterOrganization Network was formed in 2004 to help advance women to the boardroom by giving a national voice to the member organizations it represents across the U.S. But as the news emanating from these 14 professional women’s organizations is regional in nature, the only real news this national organization could claim for itself was the release of its annual report.

Every January, ION compiles and analyzes the yearly, and in some cases, every-other-yearly, research findings reported to it by its member organizations. The research examines if the number of women on corporate boards in a particular state or geographic area has increased. Unfortunately, the numbers change little from year to year. Despite their valiant efforts, the member organizations continue to report no, or an insignificant, increase in the percentage of women on Fortune 500 Boards or in executive suites.

As far as the media was concerned, ION had no news worth reporting.

Yet the organization knew that progress was being made – just not enough to move the needle. So the ION board of directors devised a plan: each member organization would reach out to the most prominent CEO of a major public company in their area that had helped executive women land board seats.  ION would interview these CEOs or Directors and publish the results in their 2010 Annual Report.

On paper, it’s a brilliant plan. In reality, it’s incredibly challenging to get interview time with one busy CEO, much less a dozen. Plus, as a nonprofit, ION has a limited budget for special projects. None the less, c3PR agreed to take on the project.

Over four months, c3PR interviewed 11 “Guys Who Get It” – top executives and directors who had demonstrated a clear understanding of the business case for diverse leadership. The PR agency worked with each Guy’s company’s communications team to secured approval of their testimonial, and interfaced with each local ION Member Organization that had sponsored a Guy to coordinate media outreach efforts in their area.

ION Releases Sixth Annual Report on Status of U.S. Women Directors and Executive Officers

In addition to a national census and insightful analysis of the numbers and regional trends, this unique report spotlights eleven highly influential business leaders who are male role models for increased diversity in the C-suite and on boards of directors. News of ION’s Sixth Annual Report was picked up by The Glass Hammer and by nine other prominent newspapers. In addition, ION had gained credibility as a national organization with a message worth hearing. Here are a few pull quotes from the Guys:

  • Ariel Investments Chairman, CEO and Chief Investment Officer John W. Rogers, Jr. – “Often it is the women directors who push other board members to recognize their full potential.”
  • ArvinMeritor Chairman, CEO and President Charles “Chip” McClure – “I make sure we’re recruiting and filling the pipeline. I believe in it enough to drive it through the organization so that we consider diverse candidate for every open position.”
  • Birks & Mayors, Inc. President and CEO Thomas Andruskevich – “I believe that having women in positions of authority and on our board has indirectly helped Birks & Mayors weather the current economic crisis.”
  • Board Member, Inc. President and CEO TK Kerstetter – “Companies searching for new board members should try to cast a wider net. They’ll find no shortage of qualified women candidates.”
  • Campbell Soup President and CEO Douglas Conant – “Diversity and inclusion help us do our jobs faster, better, more completely and more uniquely than the competition. The longer I’m in business, the more I realize that diversity and inclusion deliver real business value.”
  • Greater Baltimore Committee President and CEO Donald Fry – “Having women in a company’s senior leadership ranks brings a new perspective to the decision-making process.”
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Former CEO Charles Baker – “If you don’t have women involved in the leadership of a company, you’re leaving 50 percent of the population on the sidelines.”
  • Intuit Chairman of the Board Bill Campbell – “It’s all a matter of searching for high-quality people, since the characteristics of a company are measured by the management team.”
  • Manpower Inc. Chairman, CEO and President Jeffrey Joerres – “We now have so many key position s that are filled by women that I no longer think of it as diversity. It’s become a part of what we are as a company, which is satisfying.”
  • MTS Systems Corp. Former Chairman and CEO Sidney W. “Chip” Emery, Jr. – “Having both women and men in senior management roles brought different perspectives to our deliberations and successfully kept the leadership team focused on implementing our strategic plan.”
  • Pepsi Beverages Company CEO Eric Foss– “If you have a board that is largely homogeneous, then it’s going to be very difficult to benefit from the full range of talents and experience required to thrive in today’s global economy.”