On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown signed California legislation mandating every public board in the state must have at least one woman board director by the end of 2019. The goals of the legislation are to advance gender equality and help break the corporate glass ceiling.
In our August 2018 blog on the top 150 public companies in Silicon Valley, we reported that there were still over 20 companies with no women on their boards on this list at that time. Clearly, there is a lot work boards will need to do to respond to this legislation.
As an experienced Silicon Valley board recruiter, here is my advice to Board Chairmen/Nom & Gov Committees seeking to attract new women to their technology boards:
1. You and your fellow board members won’t know the likely candidates: as we reported in our 2017 Who Runs Silicon Valley C‑Suite edition, most top operating/leadership roles in the Silicon Valley are filled by men. Most boards don’t know the young up-and-coming women executives they will need to secure the best qualified new members.
2. The first woman-filled seat is only the beginning: adding the first woman to your board is just the start. From our experience, you will be far more successful when you have recruited the second female board member, and the dynamics of the board as they relate to gender start to change in positive ways.
3. Now is the time to act: every company we work with is highly motivated to add a woman to their board. The most qualified women are in great demand and will have their dance cards full. Act now or struggle closing on the right new director for your board.
4. There are lots of qualified women board directors out there: since the start of 2017, half of our public board placements have been women. These directors are talented up and coming executives who bring operating experience and fresh ideas to the table. We are confident that the boards acting now will be successful in attracting great women leaders.
This is a watershed moment for public tech boards in the Silicon Valley. If I can be of any help to you, please contact me and I would be happy to give you my advice and support.