Strengthening Board Diversity through the Global Women on Boards Leadership Program

Female directors are welcomed to the leadership program designed to enhance their effectiveness in making boards more progressive.

June 12, 2024

Advisory boards have effectively provided strategic advice, solutions, real-life experiences, and networks, helping organizations improve development outcomes, achieve their purpose, and enhance performance. However, these spaces have also been found to be exclusionary. Studies have revealed that, on average, women held just under 20% of board seats over almost 12 years. However, evidence suggests that diversified boards stimulate innovation and produce a wider range of solutions, enabling organizations to thrive better in complex environments. 

For this reason, the Nairobi Center continues to forge strategic partnerships with institutions such as LeadWomen Sdn Bhd and Women on Boards Kenya to bridge gender parity on boards through the Global Women on Board (GWOB) Leadership program. Now in its 5th year, this unique program offers a transformative six-month journey for women directors. The 5th cohort, comprising 17 women from India (2), Kenya (8), Malaysia (5), Puerto Rico (1), and Singapore(1), will explore corporate governance, financial management, and the board's role in strategy and risk. Guided by experienced mentors, they will gain a deeper understanding of board dynamics and emerge as stronger, more confident board members.

Dr. Patti Ippoliti -  Columbia SPS

The program's culmination was a keynote presentation by Columbia's SPS, Dr. Patti Ippoliti, who illuminated more on 'Building Board of Directors Who Inspire Organizational Success.' As they began their new journey, Dr. Ippoliti congratulated the participants and encouraged them to pursue the program, as it will enable them to fill the gap of mentors lacking among the younger generation. She also shared her reflection on what she believed was the purpose of a board of directors and observations on why boards succeed or fail. Still, strikingly, she shared critical pointers on what one needs to be mindful of before joining a board, including:

  1. What experience does one bring to the board?
  2. What are the current financial/needs of the organization?
  3. What are the accomplishments and reputations of the other board members?
  4. What has been the board's sensitivity and tolerance to differing views?

These reflections sparked interest among the participants, who inquired about resolving board decisions made after hours without all members and common unresolved board issues. The GWOB program was designed to tackle such hurdles. Through the program, participants will gain insights and real-life experiences in dealing with these situations, enhancing their effectiveness in making boards more progressive.