About Us

Our Mission

Increasing the Number of Women in Executive Leadership and on Corporate Boards

Our History

OnBoard, formerly the Board of Directors Network (BDN), was founded in 1993 by Margaret “Peggy” (Espinda) LaFreniere. Inspired by a conference put on by The International Alliance for Women regarding women on boards, Peggy and the 37 other charter members started OnBoard. The initial focus was increasing the number of women on corporate boards of both public and private companies. The mission later expanded to include women in leadership positions because those women were in the best position to fill the pipeline of qualified women to serve on corporate boards.

OnBoard was among the first organizations in the country to recognize that the mission to increase the number of women on boards would require an organized effort. And the first, in the United States, to field a study benchmarking the number of women on corporate boards. The OnBoard study has been reporting progress for Georgia public companies since 1993. OnBoard was a founding member of ION, the InterOrganization Network, a national nonprofit umbrella organization dedicated to increasing the number of women on for-profit boards and in executive suites.

Today, OnBoard has grown into a prestigious organization as the leading authority on women in the boardroom and executive suites of Georgia public companies. OnBoard advocates for women, inspires them to take leadership and connects them to opportunities. The organization gives out two awards annually: OnBoard Excellence Award and the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award

1993
Founding and The First Study

Measured the number of women board members and women officers in Georgia’s public companies, determining the percentage of positions held by women. The study also measured the percentage of companies with no women board members or officers

Only 1/4 of the 150 Georgia public companies tracked had women directors, accounting for only 4% of all board seats

1998
7% Women

7% of Executive Officers in Georgia’s top public companies were women.

1999
Advocacy Efforts Amplified

OnBoard’s advocacy efforts were significantly amplified by funding that supported the distribution of the study to every public company in Georgia. The study gained visibility (quoted in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle and The Wall Street Journal), and helped grow membership and event attendance, and most importantly, it attracted major sponsors, many of whom have supported OnBoard for over a decade.

2001
Well Ahead of Its Time

OnBoard added the measurement of board seats held by women of color. A little over half of 1% of board seats were held by women of color.

2003
The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award

Awarded to the woman board member who has served as an outstanding role model for advancing the mission of increasing the number of women in executive leadership and on corporate boards.

2007
OnBoard Excellence Award

Awarded annually to three Georgia based women leaders to highlight OnBoard’s mission to increase the number of women in executive leadership.

2013
21 Years

The number of women directors has doubled, and the percentage of board seats held by women rose to 11.5% – representing great progress, but also illustrating how far there is to go before OnBoard’s work is done. Even as the number of executive officers decreases, the women executive officers reached 10% in 2008 and stay close to that percentage with no significant breakout – 9.8% this year. The share of board seats held by women of color has the furthest to go – yet to exceed 2%

2014
Next OnBoard Created

OnBoard created Next OnBoard in 2014 to engage motivated early- and mid-career professionals as they travel the path to senior leadership and perhaps board service

2016
Women Hold 12.9%

Women hold 12.9% (123) of the 952 total board seats in Georgia’s public companies. The Power of 3 or critical mass is considered at least 3 or more women on a company’s board. There is an encouraging emerging trend indicating that companies with critical mass are increasing. In the 2016 study the companies meeting this critical mass definition at the time of the data cutoff are*: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (4), Genuine Parts (4), The Coca-Cola Company (4), Carter’s, EarthLink Holdings, Gray Television, Halyard Health, Haverty Furniture Companies, Primerica, The Home Depot and UPS®. *(Three women unless otherwise noted.) But there is still work to be done. Men hold 87% of the board seats. There are 50 (40%) Georgia public companies that have no women on board. Women of color in Georgia lag the national stats for percentage of board seats.

2021
Women Hold 19.8%

Women hold 19.8% (176) of the 889 total board seats in Georgia’s public companies. There are a record 26 Power of 3 companies with least 3 or more women on a company’s board. The fill rate is 28%, which means that 28% of the open board seats were filled by women. This leading indicator is promising for future progress. There are NO all-male boards in the Georgia Top 50 companies by revenue. United Parcel Service is leading the way with 6 women on board followed by The Coca-Cola Company at 5 women. However, Women of Color hold only 3.7% of board seats which is still an area for needed special focus. Also not increasing substantially are the women executive officers, flat at 14.4%, 15.5% and 15.6% for the last three years. With the exception of these two areas, the study years 2018 through 2020 have shown increased progress over prior years. This momentum is encouraging.

Measuring Progress

From its inception, OnBoard has been a pioneer in its approach to getting more women on corporate boards. The organization was the first to field a study to measure the status of women on corporate boards. Recognizing that hard numbers are more compelling than prose, OnBoard strives to make the case for a problem that needs to be addressed while creating an essential benchmark for measuring progress and proving efficacy.

Guided by the philosophy that “what gets measured gets done”, OnBoard prepared and reported results of the first study in 1993, promoting it as a progress report for Georgia public companies, as well as a yardstick for the work yet to be done. Executive officers for the purposes of the study are only those listed by the companies in their SEC filings, which includes but may not be exclusive to the “Named Executive Officers”.