International Research and Practice
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Susan Vinnicombe, Val Singh, Ronald J. Burke, Diana Bilimoria and Morten Huse
Chapter 17: Women on Corporate Boards of Directors: Best Practice Companies
Heather Foust-Cummings INTRODUCTION As the chapters presented in this volume have revealed, women’s progress in gaining seats on boards of directors in many places throughout the world can be characterized as glacially slow. Indeed, in the United States, the growth in the share of board positions held by women has stagnated in recent years. According to Catalyst (2007), in 2007, women held just 14.8 percent of Fortune 500 board seats, representing a 0.2 percent increase over ﬁgures for 2006 (Catalyst, 2006) and only a 0.1 percent increase over ﬁgures for 2005 (Catalyst, 2005) (see Table 17.1). In spite of this slow pace of growth, some companies have demonstrated a signiﬁcant commitment to having women represented on their boards, as well as engaging the directors on their boards in ways that advance, promote and enhance diversity within their organizations. In this chapter, we examine interview data from women board directors who represent a handful of companies that have recognized the critical role that representation of women on boards of directors plays. These companies have maintained a critical mass of women on their boards for more than a decade. Through their sustained commitment to having women represented on their boards, over time and in notable quantity, these companies help to demonstrate that qualiﬁed, talented women are willing, able, and available to serve as directors for some of the world’s top companies. In addition to spotlighting interview data from women board directors at what we term ‘sustained-commitment companies’, we also pro...
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