In June, Women Serve on Boards sent letters to two of the twenty-four Fortune 500 companies that had zero women serving on their Board of Directors. In November, a second round of letters were sent to these two Fortune 500 companies — Discovery Communications, Inc. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. The content of these letters differed drastically.
Discovery Communications announced just a few weeks ago that Susan Swain was added to the Board of Directors. The letter acknowledged and congratulated the company for their efforts towards shrinking the gender gap. The company has proven that it is aware, responsive, and willing to be an inclusive leader in this space. We also urged the company to continue improving the system and prioritizing diversity to ensure long-term development and progress.
Conversely, Land O’Lakes Inc. remains one of the 20 companies that have not taken action. Our letter to the company’s executives pointed out their dedication to promoting women in their community and appointing women to internal senior leadership positions, but failing to achieve proportionate gender representation at the board level. Studies and legislation are still being proposed to tackle the gender disparity afflicting corporations. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is currently proposing legislation requiring companies to increase the transparency of boards’ compositions in their proxies and disclose improvement strategies for increasing gender diversity. This trend is only going to continue as more leaders take the next steps towards board diversity, and it is imperative for Land O’Lakes to create a board culture that embraces gender equity. Read letters below.