The Importance of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity on Corporate Boards: A Focus on Women

An effective board of directors is crucial to the success of any organization. While the average person might not be able to name an organization's board members, these individuals have a significant impact on how the organization runs, makes decisions, and ultimately performs.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity within corporate boards, particularly when it comes to gender diversity.

Current Landscape

Despite progress in some areas, women continue to be underrepresented on corporate boards in the United States. The overall percentage of women on boards hovers between 11 and 12 percent, and this figure has barely increased over the last decade.

For health-related companies, the numbers vary significantly, with biotech companies having as few as 9.7 percent women on their boards, while hospital boards fare better at 27 percent. Even among Fortune 500 health care companies, where women make up half the workforce, only 21 percent of board members are women.

The Importance of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Corporate Boards: A Focus on Women


The Business Case for Gender Diversity

Numerous studies have demonstrated that having a more diverse board is good for business. Here are some compelling reasons why gender diversity matters:

  1. Financial Performance: Companies with women directors on their boards tend to perform better than those without. For example, Fortune 500 companies with higher percentages of women directors reported a 42 percent greater return on sales and a 53 percent higher return on equity compared to their counterparts with fewer women.

  2. Broadening the Talent Pool: Having women on boards helps organizations develop a broad talent pool at all levels. By diversifying the board, companies increase the chances of having board members with the necessary skills, experience, and intelligence to make informed decisions.

  3. Strategy Development and Social Responsibility: Women bring unique perspectives to the table. They are adept at strategy development, improving corporate social responsibility, and monitoring management. Additionally, they offer valuable insights into female customers, which is essential for businesses targeting diverse markets.

  4. Cohesiveness and Effort Norms: Women's presence on boards contributes to cohesiveness. They not only exhibit strong effort norms themselves but also intensify the board's overall effort norms. This collaborative approach enhances decision-making and organizational effectiveness.

Moving Forward

To promote diversity, inclusion, and equity in corporate boards, organizations must prioritize intentional efforts to recruit and retain women. Below are a few steps to consider:

  1. Transparent Recruitment Processes: Companies should ensure that their board recruitment processes are transparent and free from bias. Prioritizing the best person for the role, regardless of gender, is essential.

  2. Board Training and Education: Regular training and education for board members can help foster an understanding of the benefits of diversity and equip them with the tools to create an inclusive environment.

  3. Metrics and Accountability: Set measurable goals for gender diversity on boards and hold organizations accountable for progress. Regular reporting and tracking can drive change.

  4. Supportive Policies: Implement policies that support work-life balance, mentorship, and career advancement for women. Encouraging women to take leadership roles within the organization is crucial.

In conclusion, gender diversity on corporate boards is not simply a matter of social justice—it's a strategic imperative. Organizations that embrace diversity, inclusion, and equity will reap the benefits of improved decision-making, enhanced performance, and sustainable success. Let us continue to champion the cause of women on boards and create a more equitable and prosperous future for all.



(1) Why Diversity Matters: Women on Boards of Directors.

(2) Why Women on Boards - Boardbound by Women's Leadership Foundation.

(3) Why Boards Need More Women - Harvard Business Review.

(4) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Board Practices Quarterly.

(5) How diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) matter | McKinsey.


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