Siebel Newsom and Stanford launch playbook to increase gender diversity

As more women take top corporate jobs, there are also calls for more representation on corporate boards of directors.

On Tuesday, California's First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Stanford University announced the launch of a new Board Diversity Playbook at an event on campus.

"We're committed to representation and again having diverse women around the tables of power," said Siebel Newsom.

Researchers created the free online playbook looking at best practices. 

Siebel Newsom says changing boards, which have often centered on executives and wealthy members of the community, requires a shift in corporate culture. She says the focus needs to shift from money and power to prioritizing caregivers and diverse communities.

"It's just what we need to move forward and solve some of these major problems," Jennifer Siebel Newsom, California First Partner.

"If we can get them to shift and open their hearts and minds a little bit, to be more collective-oriented, to be more community-oriented and bring more women into power and around those tables, who have different life-experiences," said Siebel Newsom.

Board diversity still does not represent the U.S. population, according to a report in 2022 by the data firm Equilar.

The report looked at the Russell 3000 index which covers about 97% of U.S. stocks. It showed women holding 28% of board seats on public companies. That represents a new high, but still low representation. Only about 14% of the board directors were Black, Asian or Hispanic.

"I've been the only women and only person of color on several boards over the years," said Miriam Rivera, CEO of Ulu Ventures.

Rivera says board diversity can help strengthen companies.

"I certainly think boards that are more representative respond to group-think," said Rivera.

The playbook is a free online resource hosted by Stanford's VMWare Women's Leadership Innovation Lab, co-founder Lori Nishiura Mackenzie says it presents four steps for companies to take, with case studies, and resources.

"We're thinking about smaller, maybe private companies that really want to diversify the membership of their boards but don't have the resources to do it," said Nishiura Mackenzie.