4 More: Adding Women to Corporate Boards Progress Toward Women Leadership Equity Goal

Four corporate boards adding women to their boards of directors, and there is a long way to go toward parity.

Four corporate boards adding women to their boards of directors, and there is a long way to go toward parity.

According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, 24 Fortune 500 companies had no women on their boards as of March 2016. The bad news is that the majority of these 24 companies have failed to do anything about this problem, despite the attention the women on boards issue has received lately.

The good news is that some companies — Global Partners LP, Charter Communications, Inc., Core-Mark Holding Co., Inc., and Computer Science Corp. — have heard the outrage, taken initial steps, and added a woman to their boards of directors.

Unfortunately, this progress didn’t receive much publicity. This is likely due to a number of reasons. First, although adding one woman to a corporate board is a significant first step, it doesn’t seem like huge progress in the grand scheme of things. Second, this year has been an eventful one for women! From Olympics victories to triumphs in business and politics, there have been more buzzworthy wins to report. And third, the companies that took the plunge are relatively less publicized and less glamorous — not exactly new, exciting, media darlings.

But progress is progress, and, it is important to congratulate the following four companies for hearing the criticism and taking their first steps toward parity:

It’s important to congratulate companies for taking their first steps toward parity #taketheleadwomen

1. Global Partners LP is an American energy supply company ranked 276th in the Fortune 500. It controls a terminal network of refined petroleum products in New England and wholesales products such as home heating oil, gasoline, and residual oil. It has served wholesalers, retailers, and commercial customers for over 80 years. Global Partners elected Daphne H. Foster to serve as a director in May 2016.

Foster’s unique knowledge of and experience with the company and industry makes her uniquely qualified for the board. Foster has been the company’s Chief Financial Officer since July 2013 and served as Treasurer from 2010 until June 2013. She joined Global in 2007. According to Global Partners, “[Foster’s] experience in the petroleum products industry includes several years as a Vice President in the Energy and Utilities Division of Bank of Boston. She started her banking career in 1982 at Bank of Boston and later joined Citizens Financial Group, where she oversaw the Loan Officer Development Program. Ms. Foster received a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Boston University.”

2. Charter Communications, Inc. is an American cable telecommunications company, most widely known for its Charter Spectrum service brand. It provides services to over 25 million customers in 41 states, making it the second-largest cable operator in the United States by subscribers. Charter is ranked 292nd in the Fortune 500. Charter elected Kim Crawford Goodman to the board of directors of Charter on July 26, 2016. According to Charter, Goodman “brings software, networking, financial services and customer service experience to the board from her experience in executive leadership roles at American Express Company and having previously held senior leadership positions in both software and networking at Dell Inc.”

Goodman most recently held various positions with American Express from 2007 to 2014, including President, American Express Global Business Travel (2011 – 2013), President, Merchant Services Americas (2010 – 2011), and Executive Vice President, Merchant Services North America (2007 – 2010). Goodman is no stranger to board service — she also serves as a director of BlueTarp Financial, Inc. and National Life Insurance Company.

3. Core-Mark Holding Co, Inc. distributes consumer packaged goods and foods for the retail industry. It provides distribution and logistics services as well as value-added programs to customer locations across various states and several Canadian provinces. Core-Mark, which is 317th in the Fortune 500, added Laura Flanagan as an independent director in June 2016. Flanagan has extensive executive and leadership experience to draw on during her board service.

Flanagan was the President of the Snacks Division of ConAgra Foods, Inc., from 2011 to 2014. She was also President of ConAgra’s Convenient Meals Division from 2008 until 2011. Before ConAgra, Flanagan was Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Tropicana Shelf Stable Juices at PepsiCo Inc. from 2005 to 2008. She also held several leadership positions in marketing at General Mills, Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. from 1996 to 2005.

4. Computer Science Corp. is an American corporation that provides information technology services and professional services,ranked 233rd in the Fortune 500. CSC has 56,000 employees in over 60 countries and its clients include commercial enterprises and government agencies. CSC has added Lizabeth H. Zlatkus to its board in August 2016. Zlatkus has served as a member of the Boston Private’s board of directors and as a director on the board of Legal & General Group.

Zlatkus also has extensive experience in senior leadership. According to CSC, “Zlatkus held many senior leadership positions during her tenure at The Hartford Financial Services Group from 1983 to 2011. These included her role as chief financial officer and chief risk officer of the firm, as well as co-president of Hartford Life Insurance Companies.”

Congratulations to these four companies for taking steps toward parity. Although it may not seem exciting or buzzworthy, having 1/6th of these 24 Fortune 500 companies make a change in just six months is worth celebrating. In the journey toward corporate gender equality, even small wins, with less recognizable companies, are important to recognize and commend.

Congratulations to these four companies for taking steps toward parity. #taketheleadwomen

But the progress shouldn’t end here. Once the confetti clears away, these companies should pat themselves on the back and begin even further work toward parity. With women making up at least 50 percent of the population, it will take more than just one woman on a board to create adequate (not ideal) representation.

As for the 20 Fortune 500 companies left — and any others following along — these four can serve as a prime example of how to recruit highly qualified women directors. These companies were able to find highly qualified women with relevant industry experience, and even board experience, because they focused on the industry and actual director role. By abandoning the usual pool of Fortune 500 CEOs, and focusing on more relevant criteria, they were able to make progress toward parity and reap the benefits of a more diverse board. Therefore, these companies should be celebrated not only for making progress, but for setting an example for others to follow.

Here’s to more progress, and more women on boards.

About the Author

Olga V. Mack is the founder of the WomenServeOnBoards.com movement making a fiscal and social case for gender equality on corporate boards. She launched two petitions – to Land O’Lakes and Discovery Communications, both Fortune 500 companies – requesting the addition of, at a minimum, one woman to their board of directors. Mack plans to continue her efforts until every Fortune 500 company has a woman on its board. She is an advisory board member for ChannelMeter and TimeJoy and also is General Counsel at ClearSlide. Previously she held positions at Zoosk, Visa Inc., Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. She is the mother of two active daughters. @OlgaVMack of @BoardsWomen