Published on August 14th, 2020 📆 | 1900 Views ⚑0
FirstBoard.io drives women-driven initiative to appoint more diverse board members across technology industry
As America celebrates the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment and the women’s right to vote this August, and as movements like Black Lives Matter continue to reveal the hidden injustices that minorities face, the questions surrounding diversity and representation are more important than ever before for technology companies — especially at the executive board level.
“[Him For Her, Crunchbase, and Kellog School of Management] did a study last year, and they found that at privately, heavily funded companies, 60% of those don’t have a single woman on the board,” said Rita Scroggin (pictured), founder of FirstBoard.io Cohort. “Women in general held about 7% of board seats at these companies. So I think there’s still a long way to go, but I think it’s very important that in the future a larger proportion of the population is reflected in the boards.”
Scroggin spoke with Jeff Frick, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during a digital CUBE Conversation. They discussed the founding of FirstBoard.io Cohort and what that will mean for the future of representation on company boards.
The founding of FirstBoard.io and its mission to help diversify executive boards
Scroggin, who has led the executive search practice at the Triad Group since 2010 and has partnered with leading Silicon Valley venture capitalists, founders and technology leaders, is the founder of FirstBoard.io Cohort. The organization is a group of diverse female leaders who’ve handled key operating roles at startups and public tech companies, and it primary goal is to connect founders, chief executive officers, venture capitalists and private equity partners with the chance to bring females on to executive boards across the technology industry. The founding members of FirstBoard.io consist of 32 board-ready women executives who are hoping to secure board appointments.
“The idea is that we work together collaboratively and that we leverage each other’s networks,” Scroggin explained. “If we leverage each other’s network, we exponentially grow our network and we exponentially grow our visibility. So our focus right now is to really raise the profile of FirstBoard.io and the profile of each member of the group. So it’s fundamentally different because we’re working together … almost like a company that can accelerate where if we have a success, it’s everybody’s success.”
The idea first came about in 2019 during an event with K&L Gates LLP where Scroggin spoke about how to get on a company’s board. While it wasn’t specifically about women, she was approached by another speaker of the evening who asked her if she ever helped place women on private company boards. The question spurred Scroggin to begin thinking about an initiative exclusively for women. FirstBoard.io initially launched in January 2020, and it was to be centered around Silicon Valley. However, when COVID-19 hit, members became more distributed in places like New York, Seattle and Dallas, and meetings have been conducted over Zoom.
“Actively, we are going after private tech companies, and they can be located anywhere, so it’s not specific just to Silicon Valley,” Scroggin said. “Of course, a lot of tech companies are clustered there. But it could also be company in New York or Boston, or wherever. But the focus is really on tech versus a broader focus of any kind of company.”
FirstBoard.io is close to making its first board placement, according to Scroggin, and the organization has already curated three board discussions. While progress is slow, it’s all about taking it one step at a time and hoping to continue to build momentum for a better future that will realistically take decades, according to Scroggin.
“Whether it’s women, women of color, people of color — everybody should be part of the leadership team on the board level and on the leadership level. That has become certainly more of a topic … especially for large companies. And I think startups are now recognizing that it’s important for them too, especially if they want to be perceived as a company that has fair, equal values,” Scroggin concluded.
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations.
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