CED Wants More Women on Boards (And They're Doing Something About It!)

The Committee for Economic Development (CED) continues to show us its Hall of Fame-worthy stripes. The influential non-partisan research and policy organization has launched a new initiative to achieve 30% female membership on Fortune 500 boards by 2018. The group first came to our attention with its perfectly balanced speaker line-up at its Spring Policy Conference. When we interviewed CED’s President and CEO, Steve Odland, he told us about CED’s women on corporate boards initiative which, at the time, comprised of a statement of support for including more women on boards and a report emphasizing the increased competitiveness of companies with women board members.

Now, the group is stepping up to make it happen. CED plans to exercise its influence through peer-to-peer conversations with board nominating committee members and chairs — most of whom are male — that will focus on increasing the number of women serving on boards. CED’s 200+ trustees, 56 of whom are women, occupy 66 seats on Fortune 500 boards. In its new statement “Every Other One: More Women on Corporate Boards”, CED says it has set a goal of meeting with 25 representatives of nominating committees per year for the next three years. After the first year, CED intends to publish a paper, without attribution, listing nominating committee concerns.

CED says in talking with its trustees about their corporate board experience, “the fastest way to achieve change is for a peer to have a face-to-face meeting with a nominating committee chair.” In these private meetings, the group says, “the business case can be presented for women directors, opposing points of view can be debated, and a diversity request can be made.”

The “Every Other One” title for the new initiative reflects CED’s hope that Fortune 500 companies will nominate women for at least half of the board seats that become open when a member is not re-nominated. If that were to happen — companies nominating a woman for every other opening — CED says the Fortune 500 “should have 30 percent female board representation by 2018, just four years from now.”

The statement is being released at CED’s Fall Policy conference where the organization continues to walk the talk with regard to the inclusion of women. The speaker line-up is nearly 40% female.

For a consistent commitment to including women in the public dialog and its efforts to bring others along with them, CED is once again in the GenderAvenger Spotlight.