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Group advances women for corporate boards

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SANTA FE – Women Corporate Directors, a 14-year-old, New York-based group dedicated to encouraging women to join corporate boards of directors, launched its 63rd and newest chapter Monday in Santa Fe.

More than 60 women from New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez attended a morninglong program of speeches and panel discussions focused on the practicalities of securing a board seat.

WCD 07-14-14Corporate boards have been dominated by serving and retired chief executive officers, most of them male, said Susan Stautberg, the international group’s founder and CEO. Boards today seek the talent they need to compete in a complex, technologically challenging global market.

“They don’t pick women because they are women,” Stautberg told the Journal. “Boards need people with an information technology background, with a cybersecurity background, with a financial background,” some of whom are female.

Today’s board needs a diversity of opinion and expertise, Stautberg said.

“You can’t have everyone thinking alike,” she said. “Otherwise, you have no one who is thinking at all.”

Stautberg said research, especially surveys of corporate boards done by Credit Suisse, shows that companies with at least three female directors have better financial performance than those with all-male boards.

In her speech, Stautberg said women approach the director’s job differently from men. Women are better at understanding customer and employee needs, she said.

“Women do their homework,” so they are often better prepared than male directors, she said. “Women look at the big picture,” they ask more questions than their male colleagues, and they work to build trust.

“Women on boards are particularly good at dealing with breakdowns in relationships,” she said. “We have the ability to raise topics without being a threat.”

WCD has chapters in places as diverse as Nigeria and Seattle. The group’s 3,000 members sit on 5,000 boards.

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