Friday, October 15, 2010

A Not So Magic Number

We all like to be recognized for our expertise and accomplishments, and people in corporate governance welcome as eagerly as anyone the pat on the back.

My governance colleague, and past Directors & Boards author, Catherine Bromilow brought to my attention her selection (along with two of her PwC colleagues) for the latest "100 Most Influential People in Corporate Governance" list. This is a roundup assembled by the National Association of Corporate Directors that recognizes influencers in all spheres of corporate governance.

Good for Catherine. She is partner in PwC's Corporate Governance Practice. She advises clients on strategies to achieve enhanced transparency and greater director accountability and on providing shareholders with a voice in certain boardroom decisions. She has a long and impressive set of involvements in advancing governance best practices, from her consulting, writings and speeches, and director education engagements. Full disclosure: We also know each other from our service on the advisory council of the Center for Corporate Governance at Drexel University.

Now let me digress. This NACD Directors 100 list always bemuses me. I am never on it. How legit a list can this be if someone who has been engaged in corporate governance for as long as I have — a tenure lengthier than most everyone on the list — and contributed the vast thought leadership to the field that I have in three decades as editor of Directors & Boards — not make this list?

Okay, now let me get down off my high horse and unplant my tongue from where it was just now firmly planted in cheek.

The 100 list is worthy and appropriate recognition and is a good thing for the NACD to be doing.

Here is what is really interesting about this latest list.

Catherine is one of only 15 women on the list. By my count, that means women make up 15% of these 100 key influencers in governance. Why does that figure jump out at me? Because it exactly matches up against the 15% representation of women on the boards of the Fortune 500, according to the 2009 census by Catalyst.

What's up with this 15% figure for women board leadership? It's a not so magic number, that's what. And my tongue is not planted in cheek when I say that.