SHARING CONCERNS—Debra Valentine Gray, Regional Director of Advancement at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a host committee member of 2020 Women on Boards shares ideas with Tyra Good, PhD., founder of the Black Educators Network as to how to get more African Americans involved in the process of board diversity. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)
The word diversity used as a noun is defined as the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation and so forth. Dealing with the diversity issue of getting more women on corporate boards of directors the group 2020 Women on Boards held their annual National Conversation on Board Diversity event as normal the Thursday before Thanksgiving, which this year was Nov. 17. Pittsburgh was one of 18 participating cities aiming to diversify women in leadership roles.
The organization exists to raise awareness and to advocate change in companies who have zero female representation on their boards. According to a local spokesperson, Carrie Coghill, president and CEO of Coghill Investment Strategies, 2020 Women on Boards began as a national organization with the primary mission of increasing female board representation to 20 percent by the year 2020. It tracks Fortune 1000 companies and keeps a Gender Diversity Index on their website; http://www.2020wob.com.
The Pittsburgh event was hosted and organized by Coghill Investment Strategies, a local investment management firm chaired by Christy Uffelman of Align Leadership and event chair Kristen Hemmings of Coghill Investment Strategies, it was sponsored by numerous area corporations. “Pittsburgh has embraced this event with open arms,” said Uffelman. “The city wants opportunities to do more.”
She pointed out that in the two years of hosting the event the attendance has doubled from 130 in 2015 to 300 this year making it the second largest in the country, second to Los Angeles out of 18 participating cities.
With a focus on diversity of women in a broad sense not so much as ethnicity, Boston based 2020 Women on Boards reports that women account for over 80 percent of all consumer purchases and make up roughly 50 percent of the workforce in the United States but currently hold only 16.6 percent of the corporate board seats within Fortune 1000 companies. Justice Cynthia A. Baldwin, Member, Board of Directors of Koppers pointed out that only 2.8 percent of board directors of Fortune 500 companies are women of color. She is the first woman on Kopper’s Board of Directors.