Dear Pinterest, Snapchat, and Evernote:
Each of you holds a special place in my phone—and that’s a big deal. But there’s something we need to talk about, that matters a lot to me.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” -Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook “Women are half the talent pool in the country. That means they’re half the brains.” -The Boston Globe
I’ve noticed something strange about your boards of directors that worries me, both as a woman and as a Pinterest, Snapchat, and Evernote user.
Some of the most influential people in the world are women. Over time, we’ve shown that we’re exceptional leaders, too. We’re college presidents, business owners, astronauts, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and successful physicians.
So why are there so few women in board positions?
Pinterest, Snapchat, and Evernote, none of you has a woman on your board of directors. What’s up with that?
Highly-funded, enormously successful startup companies like you are in a position of influence, and it’s up to you to make sure you’re representing your audience and shareholders fairly and equally. Here’s what you’re missing, when you ignore women for board positions:
1. You’re leaving your target audience out of the conversation.
33% of adult women in the U.S. spend time ‘pinning’ their favorite recipes, quotes, and hair tutorials to their Pinterest boards. That’s compared to only 8% of U.S. men who use Pinterest.
This one seems simple: why are men making all of the budget and management decisions for Pinterest when the primary audience is women? If women are using the service at a higher rate than men, then women’s opinions should at least be present in board decisions. To leave them out entirely? That’s just irresponsible.
2. To ensure fair corporate governance, we must have diversity.
Board diversity increases company performance. Diverse boards leads to lower tracking errors and higher return on investments. Companies with the most women on their boards see a higher return on sales than boards with less (or no) women.
And this doesn’t just mean women: boards with diverse races and ethnic backgrounds perform better, too.
You’re missing out on valuable chances for growth, by limiting your board governance.
3. Being on the board matters.
Evernote, you’re a $1.2 billion dollar company. While you do have a few women in executive positions, your board of directors is all men. You’re a global company and your guiding leadership should reflect its reach—having women executives is not enough.
The same goes for you, Snapchat. When reached out to by Fortune for an interview, your Vice President of Communications and Public Policy, Jill Hazelbaker, replied, “Women are well represented on the executive team.”
Having women executives is not a tradeoff or a consolation prize for not being appointed to the board. If women are affected by the decisions made in these companies, they should have a voice at the table.
Pinterest, Snapchat, and Evernote… it’s time to catch up.
Why are companies not appointing women to leadership positions, when we have so much to offer? How can we convince companies to place more women on their boards?
For one thing, we can’t be afraid to speak up.
It’s critically important to support organizations such as 2020 Women on Boards (2020 WOB), a nonprofit campaign dedicated to educating the public on the importance of putting more women on boards. 2020 WOB has a goal to increase the percentage of women on U.S. boards by 20% by the year 2020 and you can join the campaign with as little as a tweet.
These days, women in leadership positions seems like a no-brainer. With women now acquiring more than half of the professional jobs in the U.S., our leadership must catch up.
Becca Tuck is a senior at Kennesaw State University studying Technical Communication. She’s a true crime show enthusiast, podcast junkie, and animal lover, who loves soaking in as much knowledge on linguistic phenomenons as she can. When not at the baseball fields cheering on her two favorite baseball players, you can find her on her website or on Twitter at @beccatuck85.