NACD & PwC Convene Group to Move the Needle: Diversity & Women in the Boardroom as a Strategic Business Imperative

More Than 100 Corporate Directors and Executives Attend NACD/PwC Forum in New York City to Reinforce the Importance of Strong, Diverse Corporate Boards of Directors

Highlighting their ongoing commitment to advance diversity in the boardroom, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and PwC co-hosted more than 100 corporate leaders to discuss opportunities for women in the boardroom on September 15 in New York City. The forum was the latest step in NACD’s efforts to increase diversity in boardrooms across corporate America.

“NACD is absolutely for diversity, absolutely for women on boards, and that’s why we’re here,” said keynote speaker Barbara Hackman Franklin, chair of NACD, director of Aetna, Dow Chemical and American Funds and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce. “In order for boards to fulfill their mission and act as an effective, independent counterweight to management, they must incorporate a range of perspectives and voices. NACD is asking all boards to make diversity a top priority because we know that business success depends on it.”

The forum included panel discussions on business challenges facing directors today, moderated by PwC’s Mary Ann Cloyd, and the specific challenges facing women in the boardroom, moderated by Catherine Bromilow from PwC. Both Bromilow and Cloyd are partners in PwC’s Center for Board Governance, which has a commitment to supporting director effectiveness in the boardroom. “Women, as directors and executives, bring deep value and different perspectives to the boardroom. We believe that having women in key roles helps both companies and boards to be successful,” said Bromilow. “And, PwC is committed to supporting women in these challenging roles.”

The event also included peer exchanges facilitated by members of the NACD Advisory Council on Diversity: Women in the Boardroom, and time dedicated explicitly to networking, as many attendees reiterated that these connections are invaluable to furthering their personal development.

“NACD views diversity broadly—through the lenses of skill sets and experiences, from the perspectives of thought, background and communication style. Diverse insights are essential components to exemplary board performance,” said Ken Daly, president and CEO of NACD. “At a time when companies are facing more challenges than ever before, having a wide range of opinions is crucial to developing innovative corporate strategies. We are grateful to our friends at PwC’s Center for Board Governance for their collaboration on this event.”

The action-oriented meeting focused on defining next steps for NACD and four specific stakeholder segments—boards, women directors, institutional investors and search firms. To help move the needle particularly on women’s advancement in the boardroom, some consensus was reached by leading and prospective directors who attended the meeting. Based on the premise that securing your first, or next, public company board seat is a combination of what you know and who you know, the following five themes were woven through the dialogue:

  1. Network – Meet with influential directors, fellow board members, management including CEOs and the chairs of Nominating/Governance Committees which oversee board composition.
  2. Demonstrate your commitment to boardroom excellence and participate in boardroom education programs throughout the country and increase your personal value as a director.
  3. Encourage boardroom renewal. Realize that both age and term limits have increased over the past few years, so board seats are not opening for new board candidates as frequently.
  4. Study companies’ proxy statements and explore their diversity policies in public disclosures.
  5. Go after a new board seat with the same fervor and rigor as a new-job search.