Young Presidents’ Organization Supports 2020 Women on Boards’ One-Day National Conversation


Young Presidents’ Organization Supports
2020 Women on Boards’ One-Day National Conversation


LOS ANGELES, November 19, 2015 – The 2020 Women on Boards campaign, affiliated with key organizations that support board thought leadership, including Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and its Women’s YPO Network (WYN), is leading a national discussion on board diversity across 17 major U.S. cities. The nonprofit advocacy group was launched in Boston five years ago with the goal of reaching 20% of women on boards by 2020 and has created the Gender Diversity Index to track the progress companies are making in bringing more women into the boardroom.

As the former president and CEO of a publicly traded international hospitality company, co-founder and YPO and WYN member, Stephanie Sonnabend, sits on two corporate boards. “The original idea was to launch a grassroots campaign that would raise awareness of the issue among people who may have never thought about it, including young people and middle managers,” says Sonnabend. “Today’s collaborative flagship events across the country help create awareness of this issue, while sharing best practice insights and identifying companies that are falling behind.”

According to the latest Gender Diversity Index, prepared by 2020 Women on Boards, of the 842 active companies in the Fortune 1000, women hold 18.8% of board seats, an increase from 17.7% in 2014. The percentage of board seats held by women in 2011, the first year of reporting, was 14.6%. The percentage of women on board has also seen an increase in all sectors. Companies in five sectors now have more than 20% female board members — consumer defensive, financial services, health services, real estate and utilities — helping bridge the gap.

YPO member and WYN Chair Cynthia Cleveland, president of Broad Think, has led WYN’s board initiatives including “WYN Board Boot Camps” and “Board Talks” and has been supporting 2020 Women on Boards for the last four years. As part of the hosting committee of the latest Los Angeles 2020 initiative event, she has seen participation grow from below a small gathering to a sold-out event with more than 250 participants in L.A. this year.

“What makes this event unique is that it is not only open to C-suite, senior executives or women aspiring to reach board levels, but other third parties as well. Men are waking up to the fact that companies need to recruit more women to maximize board effectiveness,” says Cleveland.

Another YPO and WYN member, Jane Hardy, CEO and chair of the board of Brinly-Hardy Co, has hosted an event every year since 2012, and this year is bringing an expert in family business board searches to meet with a selected group of women.

“We have held larger, more general meetings in the past. This year we are pairing 24 select women with an expert in family business board searches, paring the supply with the demand to move the needle a bit further in a very direct way,” says Hardy.

“The close relationship and continuing collaboration between WYN and 2020 Women on Boards reconfirms YPO’s commitment to supporting the movement toward accelerating the percentage of women in boardrooms.” says YPO CEO Scott Mordell. “We are proud of WYN members and their role in this 2020 national dialogue, acting at change agents in the advancement of women to company boards.”

About Young Presidents’ Organization
YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) is a not-for-profit, global network of young chief executives connected through the shared mission of becoming Better Leaders Through Education and Idea ExchangeTM. Founded in 1950, YPO today provides 23,000 peers and their families in 130 countries with access to unique experiences, extraordinary educational resources, access to alliances with leading institutions, and participation in specialized networks to support their business, community and personal leadership. Altogether, YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people around the world and generate USD $6 trillion in annual revenues. For more information, visit https://legacy.ypo.org.

About 2020 Women on Boards
Founded in Boston in 2010, 2020 Women on Boards is a national campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or greater by the year 2020. 2020 WOB is well known for its research on the gender composition of boards of directors, including its proprietary Gender Diversity Directory, which ranks companies on a W (winning) to Z (zero) scale. 2020 WOB leverages this research with its one-day National Conversation, held in November throughout cities in the U.S. and the world, when thousands of C-Suite and senior-level executives discuss and explore the benefits that women bring to company boardrooms. For more information visit http://www.2020wob.com.

Angela Mers is the global PR and Media Manager at YPO and has worked for the organization since 2007. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science.