Sponsored by Oregon Business

Few women sit on public companies' boards

| Print |  Email
Articles - November 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
"I'd love to see more women pursue technical degrees," says Kirby Dyess, who serves on three corporate boards.
// Photo by Matthew D'Annunzio
Exactly how and why the presence of women on boards improves a company’s financial performance is difficult to pin down. The consensus seems to be that women bring a different perspective to the table, in part because of their status as outsiders, and that “the more types of thinking, the better decisions the board will make,” says Peggy Fowler, retired CEO of Portland General Electric and a director serving on the boards of PGE and Umpqua Holding Corp.

Companies also need more diverse boards for image purposes and to better understand the needs of an increasingly complex and diverse workforce and marketplace. “If you’re sitting on a board where the customer base or buyers are female, you’d have a very difficult time understanding your market with an all-male board,” says Kirby Dyess, principal of Austin Capital Management, a former Intel vice president and a member of PGE’s board of directors. She cited the utilities industry as an example of such a “diversified” sector.

Companies with a critical mass of female board members also tend to hire more female corporate officers than companies without women on the board. According to another Catalyst report, companies with at least 30% women board directors in 2001 had on average 45% more women corporate officers by 2006, compared to companies with no women board members. In both the financial performance and corporate officer reports, the key number of female directors appears to be three. “That’s the magic number where change actually happens,” says Boughton. Oregon’s women executives agree. “When you have more than two women on a board, there’s an additive effect; you have more confidence to speak out,” says Patricia Moss, chief executive and chair of the Bank of Cascades and one of three women who sit on the board of MDU Resources Group, a Fortune 500 company based in North Dakota.

Only four of the 46 public companies in Oregon have at least three women serving on their boards of directors: Nike, StanCorp, Albina Bank and Schnitzer Steel. There are only two companies with female chief executive officers — Schnitzer and Bank of the Cascades. Both  have at least one woman on their boards.


More Articles

100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.


Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.


Roll On

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The myth of a freight-dependent economy.


Insurance pulse: health care and Export-Import banks

Linda Baker
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
111715-healthcarelindathumbBY LINDA BAKER

The past month has been marked by upheaval in the health insurance markets. I also check in on clients of the Export-Import bank, a federal credit agency that subsidizes, and insures, foreign exports.


5 questions for Ruby Jewel creator Lisa Herlinger

The Latest
Saturday, October 24, 2015

What's it like working with your sister and how do you compete in Portland's crowded artisan ice cream space?


The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.


Photo Log: #TillamookSmile

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015
103015-cheesethumbBY CHRIS NOBLE | ART DIRECTOR

Against a changing backdrop Patrick Criseter’s infectious grin remained constant. It’s a cheesy (pun intended) beam that begs for a hashtag.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02