FWA in NJ held an exciting event on Thursday, June 6 at the wonderfully renovated offices of Sobel & Co, Inc. in Livingston NJ. Sobel’s hospitality and venue was so gracious and perfectly conducive to both the networking and program presentation aspects of the session.
After a brief welcome by the FWA in NJ co-chair, Stephanie Hauge, the evening began with the moderator, Sally Glick, Principal of the host, Sobel & Co., Inc., setting some context reviewing some of the key metrics around women on boards (or lack thereof! ) and the data that continually demonstrates that having more women in the C suite and on boards results in firms with greater profitability. Cathy Choi, President of Bulbrite who serves on a private family owned corporate board, and Judith Reinsdorf, most recently EVP and GC of Tyco International, and currently on the Board of Alexion Pharmaceuticals had much to contribute.
They highlighted their personal journeys of getting on a board(s), and the importance of their particular expertise, the value of keeping social media current (Linked In profile), the value of networking, being out there, the need for financial expertise on boards among other areas covered. Nancy Pinkin, Assemblywoman of Middlesex County, who introduced legislation similar to that which was made law in California, which requires a percentage of women on public corporate boards headquartered in the state, stated that at this juncture the focus is getting women, men, companies, organizations to support the legislation, willing to testify, writing letters, etc. We were graced with a surprise visitor/presenter, Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire (from LA), CEO, 2020 Women on Boards, who fought for the passage of the legislation in CA. She learned that Nancy Pinkin was at our event, and hired a car to take her from NYC to our session.
Betsy brought together beautifully the main themes of the evening: tips for joining boards, and the broader issues of the dearth of board opportunities for women, what is happening to change that and what still needs to be done. The women in the room last night were motivated to see change in the status quo and their energy will accelerate that change. She emphasized, getting more women on boards is not about doing the right thing, although it is, or diversity, having boards reflect key consumers (women), but that it results in better business, higher profits.
The participants included the presence of several members and non-members alike, especially women from MetLife and Prudential, two of FWA’s President Circle members, and additionally, the president of the Executive Women of NJ, Barbara Kauffman, and the head of the NJ chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Anita Allen, and Jean Grisi of Nokia, who serves on the National Board of the Girl Scouts, USA.
A special thanks is due to Patricia Haverland, chair of the event, who orchestrated the coming together of the panel and other aspects of the evening.