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Women Executive Leadership Hosts National Conversation on Gender Diversity

The First Female Private Space Explorer Anousheh Ansari Gives the Keynote Address in South Florida and Emmy Nominated Anchor of “First at 4” and News Channel 8 Stacie Schaible Moderates Panel Discussion in Tampa

In partnership with 2020 Women on Boards (2020WOB), WEL held a National Conversation on Board Diversity on November 21st in both Tampa and South Florida.

The National Conversation is an annual event that takes place on the same day throughout the U.S. to talk about gender diversity in the boardroom. It was established by 2020 Women on Boards, a global education, public awareness and advocacy campaign urging corporations to meet or exceed 20% women directors on their boards by the year 2020.

In Tampa, the sold-out crowd was treated to a beautiful evening at the Tampa River Center at Julian B. Lane Riverfront featuring a panel discussing the topic: Advancing Gender Diversity in the Boardroom: The Business Case for Board Diversity. Emmy nominated anchor of “First at 4” and News Channel 8 Stacie Schaible moderated the panel discussion. Rhonda Mims, EVP of WellCare Health Plans Inc., Karen Dahut, EVP, Global Defense Group Lead Booz Allen Hamilton, and David Deno, CEO of Bloomin’ Brands Inc., were so kind to share their wealth of knowledge about how things have changed in Board diversity and where they see it going in the next decade.

In South Florida at the Signature Grand, over 200 corporate leaders (both male and female) discussed this year’s topic: Now is the Time: How Can We Help Each Other and Seek Allies to Find a Corporate Board Seat? The keynote was given by the first female private space explorer and CEO of XPRIZE, Anousheh Ansari, who championed the importance of women on corporate boards and shared her personal journey of breaking barriers to the top. In Florida, WEL is a Founding Partner with 2020WOB and has held annual events in both Tampa and South Florida for the past eight years.

“Gender diversity isn’t a given, it’s something we need to keep working towards,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “When it comes to gender diversity in the workplace, it’s critical to work alongside organizations like WEL, so we can help create a more equitable future for all generations to come.”

WEL’s mission is to advance gender diversity in the boardroom and C-suite so it was a natural partnership to align with 2020 Women on Boards. Women now hold 19.1% of the board seats at the 105 corporations headquartered in Florida on the Russell 3000 Index—below the national average of 20.4%—according to the latest Gender Diversity Index published by 2020WOB. Although Florida lags the National average, it’s encouraging that companies have steadily added women corporate directors to their boards since 2018 when women held 17.0% of board seats in the state, up from 15.5% in 2017. As of June 30, 2019, women directors in Florida companies held 179 of 937 board seats.

“Although this is an amazing feat, the work is not yet complete,” said Shari Roth, co-founder of CAPITAL iDEA and Board of Director of WEL. “Organizations like WEL help pave the way for accomplished and qualified women to get their seat at the table. And both WEL and 2020WOB won’t stop until gender parity has been achieved.”

Cindy Kushner, WEL Chair Emeritus, founded Women Executive Leadership, Inc. in 1999 to bridge the gap between qualified female board candidates and companies looking for improved gender diversity in their boardrooms. Over the past 20 years WEL’s work to connect, educate and advocate executive women has had an impact with board placements and C-suite advancements.

WEL encourages successful professional women to join their organization and mission through their member qualification process. Once accepted, members have access to events like the annual National Conversation, educational workshops and mentorship programs. For more information on WEL, please click here.