Where Do We Find Qualified Women Board Directors?

Board Chairmen seeking women directors frequently ask, “Where can we find qualified women?” We know the answer.

Chadick Ellig recently conducted an analysis of 657 new director appointments in 2002. In our study, we found the backgrounds of women directors to be similar to male directors in both functional and industry experience. The majority of both male and female directors came from general management ranks and finance functions, and came from a similar mix of industries.

We discovered, however, a significant difference in the age of the directors. Half (49%) of the women directors in the sample are age 50 or younger, contrasted with only a quarter (26%) of the male directors. This finding dovetails with our own anecdotal experience in finding women directors and has implications for those looking to recruit women to a corporate board.

Women executives "on the way up" are a rich source of board talent . Traditionally, we have found that boards prefer their directors to be at least in their mid-40s. Our own success in finding women directors below this average age supports our strategy of finding and placing up-and-comers rather than the narrower target of established executives .

In 1997, we recruited 42-year-old Judy Boynton, Controller of Amoco, to her first board seat at Cincinnati Bell. Today, she is Chief Financial Officer of Royal Dutch Shell and was recently promoted to their main executive board. For the Mead Corporation, we found Susan Kropf who was 47 and Vice President, Manufacturing of Avon. Today, she is President and Chief Operating Officer of Avon and sits on both the MeadWestvaco and Sherwin-Williams boards. Recently, we placed Zoë Baird, head of the Markle Foundation, on the Board of Convergys.

Chadick Ellig’s broad networks, cultivated by the firm ’s partners, coupled with a long-standing reputation for in-depth assessment ensuring successful placements, provides us with the capability to quickly hone in on targeted women board candidates. Due to our network, we know senior women stars who are on their way up in the corporate world.

“At Chadick Ellig, our approach and accomplishment in finding women rising to the top is a goldmine for our clients, ”states Millie McCoy, who has placed many of the firm ’s successful board candidates." As a woman-owned search firm, we know this network intimately. We know the key players and have a particular strength in assessing talent. We’ve been good at this for many years and our clients benefit from our skill and experience.”