Approximately 40 successful women directors of Maryland public companies gathered to network with other women directors, board chairs and CEOs at W. R. Grace & Co., in Columbia, Maryland, on October 8, 2015. The reception was organized by Network 2000 and Stanton Chase International as part of their mission to expand opportunities for more women to obtain seats on corporate boards.
Fred Festa, CEO of W. R. Grace & Co., was the key speaker during the reception. The reception focused on the importance and benefit of having board diversity for public companies. Mr. Festa addressed the group and described the positive business impacts of having women on his board. Ms. Diane Gulyas, who serves on the Grace Board of Directors also attended the event and offered her insights from a director perspective.
The Network 2000 2015 Census Report of women holding board seats at public companies headquartered in Maryland includes the 77 Maryland public companies that are listed on one of the three major exchanges. This year’s report showed some progress in the number of women on boards but also highlights that there is need for improvement. The percentage of women holding board seats increased from 13.3% to 14.2% in 2014. However, the number of companies with no women on the board increased from 22 to 24. Unfortunately, the percentage of Maryland companies with no women directors is still much higher than the national average (31.2% versus 3.6% nationally). “As a woman director, I see the lack of other women on corporate boards. This event is a great opportunity for more women to gain the exposure and networks necessary to get onto corporate boards,” said Carol Coughlin, Board Chair of Hamilton Bancorp, Inc., CEO of Bottomline Growth Strategies and Network 2000 member.
Research shows that most board seats are filled from the networks of existing directors. In order to increase the number of women filling vacant board seats, women directors need to network with each other, other CEOS and the nominating committee chairs of public boards. This was the second event hosted by Network 2000 and Stanton Chase International for this purpose and more such events are planned. “Bringing greater diversity into corporate settings is one of our company’s priorities. Network 2000 has been an important partner for us as we try to move the needle in this region,” said Mickey Matthews, International Chairman and Managing Director at Stanton Chase.
Network 2000 is a non-profit organization with a mission to accelerate the success and leadership of accomplished women by expanding their impact and influence through advocacy, education and mentorship. The organization advocates for women through its census studies, partnerships with private and public entities, and collaboration with executives involved in the board selection process. Through their the Effective Impact Mentoring Program, Network 2000 prepares mid-career women to reach their full business potential – a program more than 100 talented professional women have completed since its launch. For more information, please visithttp://www.network2000md.org/.