Moving the Needle at NYSE

When our client ION announced their involvement in the Moving the Needle event aimed at increasing diversity in public corporate boardrooms, we knew it would be a success. After all, the kickoff event took place at the New York Stock Exchange and a group of attendees had the honor of ringing the closing bell. Check it out:

The Moving the Needle initiative seeks to connect diverse board candidates with public corporations across the U.S. So why should you care? As successful entrepreneurs and business execs, it’s critical that the companies you lead are functioning at full capacity. For most corporations, electing diverse board directors opens doors for well-rounded boardroom discussions, strategies and business performance. In fact, numerous studies have shown that diverse boards directly impact the success of a company. In “Gender Quality as an Investment Concept,” Pax World President/CEO and ION Advisory Council Member Joe Keefe cites a 2007 Catalyst study that found companies with the highest proportion of women board members “outperformed those with the lowest percentage of women by 66% on the basis of return on invested capital.”

The word “diversity” can be tricky. While ION focuses on increasing gender diversity on public corporate boards of directors and in the C-suite, it knows that diversity of thought, experience and ethnicity is also critical to a company’s performance. Sadly, seated around many boardroom tables is a group of senior-ranking white men with virtually the same background – even at some of the most well-known companies.  Bottom line: there’s no excuse for lack of board diversity. While many people argue that the pool of qualified women directors is too shallow, there is an abundance of qualified women who are ready, willing and able to sit at the table. A good board is balanced with directors with expertise in marketing, human resources, capital markets, corporate governance, and community affairs, along with industry and financial experts. And guess what? Women seem to be the dominant players in these fields.

So what can you do? We’ve touched just the tip of the gender diversity iceberg. But you can start by visiting www.ionwomen.org and taking a look at the Diversity Toolkit, Best Practices and Articles pages. Also be sure to sign up for the quarterly ION newsletter to get the latest updates. Share these things with your colleagues, investors, friends, and even with people you meet on the street. You never know. You could help move the needle.

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