Boardlist aims to add more women to tech boards

Boardlist aims to add more women to tech boards

Silicon Valley is targeting the chronic shortage of women at the top of the technology industry with a new service called Boardlist.

Boardlist is a database that privately held technology companies can search to find female candidates to fill open board seats.

The service, currently in beta, already has 700 plus women candidates who have been endorsed by technology investors, executives and entrepreneurs and is aiming to add many more, said Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, chairman and founder of Silicon Valley startup Joyus who is spearheading the project.

Boardlist is part of a broader project called ChoosePossibility that Cassidy launched to increase the representation of women in the tech industry.

“The conversation around gender diversity in tech has been raging for a while,” Cassidy said in an interview. “People are looking for solutions that are tangible to get women to participate at the fullest level.”

Silicon Valley technology companies have about half as many female directors as America’s largest companies, according to a recent study from the law firm Fenwick & West. About 10% of directors at Silicon Valley’s 150 largest companies are women compared with about 21% of directors at S&P 100 companies.

The shortage of women is even more pronounced in private tech companies, up to three quarters of which have no women on their boards, Cassidy estimates.

Boardlist is “aimed at accelerating great women leaders on private tech company boards,” she said. “Private companies need more talent and founders need access to more talent.”

Technology companies have ample incentive to headhunt top female candidates. Research shows that diverse thinking can drive better performance. Adding women to the board can also help companies improve diversity throughout the organization, whether by recruiting more women to the executive and employee ranks or by developing policies friendlier to women, Cassidy said.

If successful, Boardlist could create a much larger pool of potential candidates and increase the number of female role models in the tech industry. Before starting Joyus in 2011, Cassidy spent nearly 20 years as a consumer Internet and media executive at such major technology companies as Google and Amazon and currently serves on the boards of TripAdvisor and Ericsson.

“People talk about there not being a great pipeline of talent but there is a tremendous pipeline of talent,” Cassidy said. “It’s about making known what’s not known.”


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