Five members of Pittsburgh's "Top 50 in Business" were acknowledged today for their inclusion of women on corporate boards. State Treasurer Rob McCord and Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation, honored Allegheny Valley Bancorp, ALCOA, First Commonwealth, HFF and PNC Financial Services as benchmarks for representation of women on corporate boards.
Arnet says in 2006 there were 44 women on the boards of Pittsburgh's Top 50 companies, but today there are 66 women in those positions....
"It's especially exciting to see that a community can engage in and focus on an issue and see real change occur. Together, non-profit leaders, civil rights leaders and corporate leaders joined forces and said 'Pittsburgh needs to be a leader for gender equity in the board room' and you are making that happen."
Laurie Singer, director of First Commonwealth Financial, says she did not struggle to reach her position because of her gender and that's how it should be..
"I must say my experience has been fairly seamless and it really isn't identified as women in the boardroom. It's really committed directors working hard to do what's right for the corporation and the issue of gender doesn't surface that blatantly. I'm proud to say that it's just about getting the work done."
In 2006, women held 9% of the board seats of the Pittsburgh region's Top 50 companies and that rose to 13.4% last year. Conversely, women holding board director positions within Fortune 500 companies declined from 16.9% in 2006 to 15.7% in 2010.
Treasurer McCord said that evidence suggests businesses with a more diverse board composition will perform better....
"Having women and minorities in the boardroom brings fresh perspectives, new ideas and more tough questions to the decision-making process. That all helps companies govern themselves better and return more to their shareholders."