Fireside Chat at WomenExecs on Boards Annual Meeting Discusses “Sponsoring Women to the Boardroom”

As the country becomes increasingly diverse, the topic of board diversity is a recurring one in the business world – especially the challenge of bringing more women into executive roles and board positions. According to a study by Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity, women held 22.5% of Fortune 500 board seats in 2018. While the percentage marks an all-time high, progress is still slow-going.

WomenExecs on Boards (Women Execs), a global network of Board-ready women with c-suite and senior executive experience, held its annual meeting in Boston and focused on the issue of women’s role on high-impact boards. CEO of Merchants Fleet Brendan P. Keegan spoke at the event’s Fireside Chat and Q&A focused on the topic “Sponsoring Women to the Boardroom.”

The session offered practical advice about what women can do to secure board seats. Keegan spoke alongside Noreen Doyle, Independent Non-Executive Chairman for Newmont Gold Corp. and Vicki Sato, Ph.D., who is Chairman of the Boards of DenaliTherapeutics, Inc., and Vir Biotechnology Inc, the Lead Independent Director of Bristol-Myers Squibb, and board member of BorgWarner, Inc. and Syros Pharmaceuticals. The group discussed using your network of influencers to help make introductions to CEOs who are looking to fill board seats, the importance of sponsors, and how attendees could help each other connect with people that are seeking board members or who need to fill C-suite positions.

“Having a variety of perspectives on a board strengthens a company, and that is why it’s important to provide pathways to the board room for women,” said Keegan. “Encouraging women to take on roles that involve leadership and corporate governance is something I am passionate about, and it was an honor to dive into this topic with a group that is making great strides in this area.”

Jeanine L. Charlton, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology & Digital Officer at Merchants Fleet, also participated in the weekend as a Women Execs member.

“It has been demonstrated that including women on boards results in expanded perspectives and better performance,” said Charlton. “There are many women with C-suite experience who would be strong additions to company boards – it’s just a matter of bringing them to the table. Being a part of Women Execs on Boards has connected me with a network of like-minded women who are ready to enter the board room and address this important issue.”

Women Execs was created with the goal of helping companies achieve a competitive advantage through gender diversity. All members are alumnae of the Harvard Business School Executive Education program “Women on Boards: Succeeding as a Corporate Director.”