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How to Get More Women on Boards

Tuesday, April 3, 2018  
Posted by: Savannah Zhang
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Thank you to everyone who came to our March Forum luncheon and especially to members who brought guests! Our speaker Adrienne Davis serves as Vice Provost of Washington University Law School and board member for the St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis (just to name a few). A powerful lecturer, Davis brought her charisma and passion to the Saint Louis Club and rallied the crowd around getting more women on boards.


For those of you who weren’t able to make it, we want to share a few key insights from Davis’s presentation:

  • This is NOT a pipeline problem.  While some may believe the lack of women in certain corporate fields causes the shortage of females on boards, the facts say otherwise. For example, in the financial services industry (one many people think is male-dominated), women make up 54 percent of the labor force, only 18 percent of board directors.

We finally have women in these spaces, but what can we do to promote ourselves to board-level positions?

  • Don't be shy!  Make your interest known to those who can make it happen.
  • Control your narrative.  Can you be Googled?  If you can, what are the first few links that pop up?  Do those links provide your ideal first impression? You want to be known in your industry, but you want to be known for producing novel work, or being the best in your field, or through other related accomplishments.
  • Be board-ready.  Many programs offer opportunities to train you to become board ready, but you also can work to reach this goal on your own.

o   Do your research – identify 10 organizations whose boards you would like to join. Learn everything you can about those companies and their current board members.  What organizations do those leaders represent?  What have they done to reach their positions?

o   Look for sponsors – your sponsor should have power in your industry, and she must be willing to use that power to help you reach your goals.

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