The #SoLastCentury campaign by Women Serve on Boards targets the remaining 20 of the Fortune 500 companies who currently have zero women serving on their board of directors. A 2015 McKinsey and Co. study determined that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to financially outperform those in the bottom quartile. A 2014 Catalyst study found that having more women in leadership and board positions resulted in better financial performance while increasing innovation and group performance.
Increasing diversity in boards and leadership significantly increases profits, boosts competitive advantage, and puts a company on the right side of the issue. Taking steps toward gender equality on boards is also the right move socially. Companies that aim to improve and shape society can’t do so unless they reflect society. Boards and management need to understand how the lack of diversity in leadership and management impacts shareholders.
#SoLastCentury sheds light on the fact that women are still not equally represented in society. As early as the mid-1800s, women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were voicing their demands for decreasing the disparities between genders. Almost 100 years ago, female leaders were fighting for the right to vote, and while change has come, it has been at a glacial pace. In 2016, more than a century later, we are still nudging companies, whose top executives are all male, to create change and place women on their boards. This campaign aligns with our other efforts, the two petitions and letters to the boards and CEOs of these companies, to increase gender equity.