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The annual "Women on Boards" is out and the dissapointing findings about Philadelphia area publicly traded companies and nonprofit boards include learning that:

Nearly four in 10 - 39 percent - of top executive positions at 18 area colleges are held by women. Yet women make up only 14 percent of executive ranks at public companies.

At public companies, females fill 12 percent of the board seats, but they more than double that - at 26 percent - at 17 of the region's health care systems.

All of the nonprofits examined by the forum have women on boards and among the top executives. By contrast, there are 21 public companies among the region's top 100 that have no women in any top spot.

In discussing the findings, the organizer noted:

You wonder what it would take to have organizations wake up to the fact that they need the talent and perspective women bring. Women constitute half the workforce. It continues to be frustrating and a bit shocking."

Schick, who serves on several nonprofit boards, says there's no difference in the skills needed to lead large organizations - profit or nonprofit.

In both cases, she said, "you have to have vision and articulate it, and then you have to organize a team and execute it.

"You look at some nonprofit boards that don't pay attention to the finances of [their organization] and that's a mistake," she said. "And you look at for-profit [firms] that don't pay as close attention to their mission, and that's a mistake as well."

The lesson from this Philly.com article should be clear: there is more to be lost than gained when excluding "difference" on board.  But, difference is not the singular factor that makes an effective board.  A nonprofit has needs and the best board member uses their lens for perspective while honing their skills and experience to ensure that the fiduciary and strategic needs are addressed effectively.

 

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