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600 Leaders Gather in San Francisco to Celebrate Board Diversity

Nearly 600 leaders packed the Four Seasons on Friday to celebrate exceeding our goal of 20% women directors in the Russell 3000 index for our 2020 Women On Boards and How Women Lead National Conversation on Board Diversity. The energy and commitment in the room, the inspiring speakers and the chance to celebrate in our beautiful community set us up and ready to take action. Julie Castro Abrams, How Women Lead’s Founder and CEO, gave a rousing speech to launch the event where she explained that when companies add diversity in the boardroom, everyone gets better because ‘groupthink’ is eliminated. And not only do women on boards help decision making, but companies perform 26% better when boards are diverse. “I encourage you to step up with moral courage,” said Julie to the crowd. “We are all counting on you to be courageous and to lead. There isn’t a pipeline problem; it is a matter of expanding our networks. Doors are being flung wide open; there are no excuses. Please join me; let’s make a better world.” Here are a few highlights from Friday’s incredible speakers: Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, CEO, 2020 Women On Boards: “All of the women in this room are ready to be on a board. Start working your networks!” Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder, Ellevest, and winner of the Disruptor - Individual Award: “Only good things can happen when you put more money in the hands of women.” Pam Kostka, CEO, All Raise, and winner of the Disruptor - Organization Award: “Seventy-one percent of VCs don’t have a single female investment partner. The time is now to create a new version of visionary and for boards to reflect the populus they serve. Morgan Stanley just came out with a report saying more than $1 trillion - that’s with a T - is waiting for entrepreneurs who are women and people of color.”

Slide Deck Available Here

One of the most fascinating parts of Friday morning’s event was the panel discussion. Magdalena Yesil, Founder of Broadway Angels, moderated; and the panelists included Sallie Krawcheck, Co-Founder and CEO of Ellevest; Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, President of StubHub and Founder of theBoardlist; and Megan Quinn, General Partner at Spark Capital and an All Raise Founding Member. Here is a snippet of some of the Q&A: Q: As the number of women increase in the boardroom because of legislation like SB 826, what can we do to bring up other minority groups? A: Sallie: “As someone on a board, it is important to advocate for minorities. When a company asks me to be on its board and there aren’t any other women, for example, I will tell them that if we don’t get another woman on the board in a specific period of time, I will be resigning.” Q: How can women present themselves to be attractive board members? A: Megan: Start with individual companies that are interesting to you, with the products you like. Define how you would add value, and then reach out to the entrepreneur. Tell them you’re excited about what they’re building and want to learn more about how you can help. This can turn you into an advisor and then possibly a board member. Sukhinder: “I think it is about thought leadership. In what industry are you a thought leader? Think about 1-2 topics that you could sit down with a CEO and give them your opinion. Start writing Medium posts about your opinions. Start making a name for yourself in your area of specialty.”

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