Alumna Lobbies for More Women on Boards

Stephanie Sonnabend '71 and daughter Antonia Ciccolo

One of the last frontiers of feminism is the representation of women on the boards of publicly held Fortune 1000 companies, which stands at just 11%. Stephanie Sonnabend ’71 is out to change that through a new grassroots initiative called 2020 Women on Boards, a nonprofit whose mission is to raise the percentage of women directors to 20% or greater by the year 2020.

As CEO and president of Sonesta International Hotel Corporation and a director of Century Bank, Stephanie knows firsthand the positive impact that female directors have on shaping corporate policy and governance. Studies have shown that companies with female directors are 42% more profitable.

Helping to spearhead this grassroots campaign is Stephanie’s daughter, Antonia Ciccolo (who also attended Beaver).

Women account for 45% of the workforce and 50% of corporate management, yet they remain under-represented at the director level. The 2020 WOB movement is asking women — the decision-makers for 80% of consumer purchases — to inform themselves about the gender diversity of the companies whose products they buy and whose stock they own. To help, 2020 WOB is compiling databases of firms with at least 20% female directors (“W Companies”) and of those without any female directors (“Zero Companies”).

The 2020 WOB website also offers information about the responsibilities of corporate directors and tips for how to get on a public board. Presently there is no legal requirement for gender diversity on boards, but in 2009 the SEC instituted a rule that requires firms to consider gender diversity when recruiting new directors.

Become a fan on the 2020 Women on Boards website to show your support for this initiative. You can also follow the group on Facebook (2020 Women on Boards) and Twitter (2020WOB).

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