Business Leaders Advocate For More Women On Corporate Boards

By Jane M. Von Bergen The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Four business leaders with ties to the region have declared themselves "Champions of Change," willing to advocate to increase the number of women on corporate boards.

"All of these people have records of being active proponents of gender diversity" in their individual organizations, said Vicki Kramer, president of the Thirty Percent Coalition, a national group organizing the champions initiative.

"This brings them together in a public way to exercise their collective clout and influence their peers," she said.

The four, part of a group of seven, are:

Doug Conant, former chief executive of Campbell Soup Co., the current chairman of Avon Products Inc., and head of Conant Leadership. He also sits on the board of AmerisourceBergen Corp., in Chesterbrook.

Rosemarie Greco, former chief executive of Core States Bank, and presently a board member of PECO and the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust.

Robert Ingram, former chief executive and chairman of Glaxo Wellcome Inc., and a member of the boards of several science-oriented firms.

William McCracken, formerly chief executive and chairman of CA Technologies Inc. and a former board member of Ikon Office Solutions, based in Wayne, now owned by Ricoh USA.

Other champions are Aida Alvarez, a Wal-Mart board member; Pat Mitchell, president of the Paley Center for Media and an AOL board member, and James Turley, former chairman of Ernst & Young.

Kramer, who lives in Philadelphia, is a longtime researcher in the field of corporate leadership by women.

She contributed to an annual report into local corporate leadership sponsored by the Forum of Executive Women in Philadelphia.

Kramer was elected president of the Thirty Percent Coalition, which was formed two years ago.

The coalition's goal is to push companies to make sure women make up 30 percent of corporate board members by 2015.

Last year, the coalition organized institutional investors to write to companies to urge them to add women to their boards.

"Right now, we are working on the demand side of the issue," Kramer said.

Years ago, she said, the problem was perception, right or wrong, that there was an insufficient supply of women qualified to serve boards.

"We are convinced that there are enough qualified women, if there's a demand for them," she said. "Companies have to want them, and they have to do something to find them."

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