A Key Moment in Time for Women on Boards
Speakers focus on why gender diversity on boards matters

by Julia Cardi

On Thursday night at The Palm restaurant in Denver, there were no men in the room at a legal networking event.

Lawyers at firms and corporate legal departments came for speeches and a panel about increasing women on boards. The Association of Corporate Counsel and Stinson hosted the event.

Stefanie Johnson, an associate professor of management at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, spoke first. Jo Lynne Whit- ing and Barbara Bauer, who are on the board of a Colorado organization focused on getting more women on opening up the board pipeline. The speakers said to think about increasing diversity on corporate boards as good for business.

Johnson studies how unconscious bias influences evaluation of leaders and strategies leaders can use to reduce bias. Johnson said research, including her own, has shown hav- ing women on boards has tangible benefits: A company better capturing its target market, better returns on investment and improving decision making on the board. “Boards are re- ally there to protect all of our stakeholders,” Johnson said. “And so when you think about the benefit of having women on boards for things like bot- tom-line stock prices, how can it be in stockholders’ or stakeholders’ best interest not to have women on boards?”

She said right now 90% of S&P 500 companies have at least two women directors, with 10 a common number of board members.

Johnson discussed research she has done surveying board members who sit on more than one. She said they tended to say gender diversity on boards improves consensus building, improves diversity in other ways and makes the boards more likely to care about social responsibility. She inter- viewed Marge Magner, who has sat on the boards of Tegna, Accenture and Ally Financial, which each have 40% women board members.

To read this and other complete articles featured in the Feb. 10, 2020 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.