In the past decade, the percentage of women serving on
corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies has hovered at about 16 percent – a number
considered abysmally low, especially considering enrollment of women in MBA
programs now ranges between 28-35 percent globally.
The Notre Dame MBA’s female student enrollment for the class
entering in fall 2012 is 33 percent.
The low number of women board members also flies in the face
of several research studies that find companies with one or more women on the
board have delivered higher average returns on equity, better average growth
and higher price/book value multiples over the course of the past six years
(Credit Suisse Research Institute August 2012 report “Gender
diversity and corporate performance”).
When board executives are asked why they don’t include more
women, their answer is usually straightforward: We can’t find qualified
A new global initiative aims to change that.
“Driving Gender Diversity in the Boardroom” is a
collaborative effort between the European Commission Taskforce; its U.S.
partner, the Forté Foundation; Forté member business schools, including the
University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business; the Financial Times and the executive
networking group Watermark for Exceptional Women.
The initiative seeks to build a list of board-ready women
and bring attention to the lack of women on corporate boards. Its central piece
is a LinkedIn group established solely for women who meet stated criteria for
being “globally board-ready.” The idea is that the group will enable recruiting
companies to readily search, find and approach group members who meet their
criteria, and thereby facilitate board membership.
Candidates can apply directly to be included in the LinkedIn
group, or may be identified by member schools such as Mendoza College and
encouraged to join. The criteria can be found on the Forté “Driving Gender Diversity
in the Boardroom” website, as well as additional resources and research for
women interested in board membership.
The Financial Times Non-Executive Director’s Club will
administer the LinkedIn group on behalf of the initiative.
The Mendoza College has been a member of the Forté
Foundation since 2011 as part of its longstanding mission of supporting human
development and community. Notre Dame MBA awarded more than $1.7 million in Forté Foundation fellowships
to top female MBA students who will graduate in 2013 and 2014. Ninety-eight percent of women that receive a fellowship are awarded $10,000 or more.
“The University of Notre Dame MBA Program is proud of our
relationship with the Forté Foundation,” said Brian Lohr, director of Notre Dame
MBA Admissions. “Our ability to provide more opportunities for our female
students is central to our mission as a University, and this includes promoting
their ability to join and lead corporate boards.”
Notre Dame alumnae
interested in becoming part of the LinkedIn group should contact Timothy Ponisciak,
director of Graduate Alumni Relations, at (574) 631-4859 or firstname.lastname@example.org.