As president of OnBoard, a nonprofit whose mission is to increase the number of women in executive leadership and on corporate boards, I want to explicitly state on behalf of our board that we support racial equity and all Black lives. With this in mind, I want to share some concrete examples of what we are doing to:
- offer meaningful programs for our board members, membership and sponsors, designed to facilitate conversations and increase the visibility of Black women executives;
- mitigate hurdles that would prevent Black women from participating in our organization; and
- increase the number of Black men and women serving on our board.
One way we deliver on our mission is through our annual study that measures the status of women on Georgia corporate boards. Please visit onboardnow.org to view the most current study. Last year as we reflected on the results, we recognized the need to be more intentional about increasing the number of women of color on corporate boards, a statistic we have tracked since 2001. Facilitating, advocating on behalf of, and taking action, for more women of color to fill corporate board seats has positive implications beyond the one female executive selected. She becomes a role model, and she brings her unique experience to the company, which in turn will have a positive impact on the customers the company serves and the communities in which we live.
Our board is prepared to accelerate the advancement of Black women on for-profit boards. The following are a few steps we are taking:
- Next OnBoard provides motivated early- and mid-career professionals with opportunities to connect with senior executive women and men interested in OnBoard’s mission, learn about board governance, and expand their professional networks. Through sponsorship, we will offer ten young Black women membership to Next OnBoard.
- The OnBoard Development Group gets women closer to their goal of serving on a for-profit board. A usual class has ten women; we will secure scholarships for two Black women to prepare them for consideration on future board roles.
- We will continue to deliver relevant programming such as the Women of Color on Corporate Boards: How Do We Move the Needle? – a fireside chat with Mayor Shirley Franklin and Maria Saporta, rescheduled due to COVID-19. We have a lot of listening to do, and as a board will consider new programs and ways of working with our corporate partners.
While saddened by how we arrived at this point, we are optimistic about what is ahead and what we will achieve together. We welcome you to join us.