| BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. May 2 Three U.S. chief
executive officers speaking at a conference on Tuesday pushed
back against the view that qualified female directors are
scarce, saying that corporate boards need to look harder and
wider to diversify.
The U.S. military, corporate subsidiaries and non-profit
boards were three areas cited as potential launching pads for
The push for more women on boards comes as some large
investors make the case that more board diversity leads to
stronger corporate performance.
"Instead of recruiting being episodic, let's look out over a
couple of years and start getting to know some potential
candidates," said Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Co
. Morrison stressed the need to create pipeline of
diverse director candidates, and suggested the boards of
non-profit companies as an excellent training ground.
Morrison was speaking on the "How to accelerate gender
diversity on boards" panel at the Milken Institute Global
Women hold 19 percent of board seats in the United States,
according to a McKinsey Quarterly report published this year by
the consultant, well below the 30 percent they hold in Europe.
Equilar, which compiles board data, said in a January study that
it will take nearly 40 years for Russell 3000 boards of
directors to reach a male-female ratio of 50-50 (bit.ly/2kTTNZA).
Morrison said that years ago, she began organizing dinners
with around 20 entrepreneurial women in cities she visits for
work. The group, which focuses on leadership, is now comprised
of more than 300 women across 12 U.S. cities, she said.
NV Tyagarajan, CEO of business processing company Genpact
Ltd, said on the panel that executive recruiting firms -
or so-called headhunters - struggle to produce lists of diverse
In response to that perception of scarcity, several
databases and lists of diverse director candidates have formed
in the last year. California pension funds CalSTRS and CalPERS
partnered in the creation of the Diverse Director Datasource in
2016. Entrepreneur Sukhinder Singh Cassidy launched the
Boardlist last year to connect boards with 1,000 female
"There's numerous studies out there, including our own work,
showing companies that had leadership that included a high
proportion of women on boards, high proportion of women in top
and senior management just performed better," said panelist
Ronald O’Hanley CEO of State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the
investment manager with $2.6 trillion under management
(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)