by Sharon Florentine

New organization aims to accelerate progress of women in leadership

News Analysis
Jan 11, 2019
CareersStaff Management

Progress toward equal representation of women in corporate leadership roles has been slow, especially in Silicon Valley. But Lead Up for Women plans to change that in 2019.

women in tech leadership
Credit: Thinkstock

MSCI, which provides market indexes and portfolio and risk management services, has a new report on the progress made toward greater representation of women on boards of directors. It’s not great news:

Of the 2,700 companies on MSCI’s All Country World Index, the percentage of firms that had at least one woman director increased only marginally. In 2017, 77.4 percent of companies on the Index had a woman seated on the board of directors; as of October 2018, that percentage was 78.7 percent.

Back in 2015, MSCI predicted that by 2027, companies on the Index would reach 30 percent representation of women on boards, but with these new numbers, it’s more likely that won’t be achieved until 2029.

However, MSCI does note that the U.S. made “modest progress” last year, increasing the number of women occupying board seats by 89 seats. And in this blog post, MSCI’s executive director, Megan Thwing Eastman, noted California’s new law, which took effect Jan. 1, 2019, which requires that all publicly traded companies headquartered in the state have at least one female director by the end of this year – and a minimum of three by 2021 for companies with six or more total directors. Information technology companies may be particularly vulnerable, the piece notes; nearly half of companies with all-male boards are in Silicon Valley.

But amidst this news, a new national organization, Lead Up for Women, has been established to help better propel women to leadership roles at work, at home, and in their community. The organization targets women who are climbing the corporate ladder, want to reach a leadership position, or want to venture out on their own and create or lead a business themselves. It offers a publishing platform (via Lead Up for Women Magazine), a personal and professional portfolio site, retreats, summits, members-only content, and a members-only online listing. It is also planning a series of in-person educational events across the U.S. to inform, educate, and facilitate networking; the kick-off event will be held in New York City on March 28, 2019.

“We want to act as a catalyst, support network, educator and resource for women who are looking to take the next step, whether that be rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, launching her own business or living her best life,” says Colleen Biggs, co-founder, in a statement announcing the Lead Up for Women organization.

Lead Up for Women occupies a unique niche in that it focuses exclusively on attaining and thriving in leadership roles, says co-founder and CEO of Insight International, LLC, Sabina Ramsey.

“I have been an active participant in many organizations for women, but there are few networks with an exclusive focus on leadership,” she says in a statement. “We are attracting larger corporate entities that want to empower their employees to be a part of a trusted, national leadership group of women to build their network, community and support.”

Hopefully, the progress made toward women’s representation in leadership will accelerate, and the numbers will look a heck of a lot better next year.