If you haven’t yet noticed, there’s someone new on Wall Street — and she is a fearless girl.

The statue, commissioned by State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), of a defiant girl with her hands on her hips is in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8th). According to CNN Money, the goal of this installment is to “call attention to a new initiative by the asset-manager to increase the number of women on their clients’ corporate boards.”

Currently, women representation on US corporate boards totals about 19% (NY Times). And women of color are only 3%.

Why is this important?

Because effective boards are diverse boards.

Ron O’Hanley, president and CEO of SSGA told CNN Money, “Certain research shows that companies with greater levels of gender diversity have had stronger financial performance as well as fewer governance-related issues such as bribery, corruption, shareholder battles and fraud.”

It’s time for women to stare down the bull

While making Pioneers in Skirts, we asked women how equipped they were to deal with obstacles and opportunities in their careers. When it came to the subject of ‘paid board seats,’ most weren’t sure if they were qualified.

We learned, as VP-level women in male-dominated industries, many of our interviewees had the experience but were NOT aware of how to go after the opportunity.

Thank you, SSGA, for recognizing that pioneering women in leadership roles is so very much needed. Now ladies, it’s time for you to stare down that bull, too!

When we interviewed Kat Cole, Group President at FOCUS Brands, we asked her about this very issue. She explained that due to the low numbers of women in President and CEO roles, corporations must look deeper for qualified candidates.

If  you really are serious about gender-diverse board leadership and you want it now, (corporations) need to look one layer deeper from presidents and CEOs to get that board leader. Maybe there is that rock star woman who’s the vice president or she’s in the C suite but not yet running the full enterprise, but she’s got the skills and the talent needed to round out a diverse board. If you really are serious about getting gender-diverse board leadership, then yes, you might need to look at someone who is about to become that CEO or that president to give them an opportunity to be on your board for the advantage of having that gender-diverse benefit and giving that woman a shot.

On the flipside, there are many women who say, “I don’t know how to get on boards. I don’t know how to have access.” My response to them is, “Google it.” There is no shortage of access to free webinars, group training sessions, web links, in-person regional activities that can give you at least the beginning glimpse of what it might take to get governance training, to get visibility to people who are on boards.

If you put yourselves out there and you still feel that you’re not making the connections you need, then you might need to get a little more targeted. Seek out someone who is involved with that company at a leadership level and say, “I love your company. I love what you do. I’d love the opportunity to be considered for a board role, even if it’s an advisory board position to begin with, so that I can learn more about what you do and figure out if I’m a good fit.”

Great advice, and we took it.

We Googled it and found corporate head hunter Jeff Chambers with the Center for Leadership Studies. As a Work-Life Certified Professional, Jeff sat down with us to share the steps women can take (right now) in order to fill these very large diverse board gaps. Check out the clip below —


Want to learn more about the corporate board classes that Jeff refers to? Read: Ladies…Do You Have A Board Resume?.