Mary Winston, a member of Domtar’s Board of Directors, and Domtar President and CEO John D. Williams bring their corporate experience and board perspectives to the 2020 Women on Boards national conversation on board diversity. This important diversity panel takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina, this month.
The Charlotte event is one of several 2020 Women on Boards diversity panel discussions happening across the United States, as well as internationally. Each will have local leaders responding to the question “How can we increase the number of women serving on local and regional corporate boards?”
Winston and Williams join Doug Lebda, chairman and CEO of LendingTree, Inc., and Brie Williams, vice president at State Street Global Advisors. The diversity panel, moderated by Anne McGeorge, operating partner of Havencrest Healthcare Partners, opens the conversation on gender diversity and inclusion on corporate boards in the region.
Diversity Panel Reflects Growing Movement
The goal of 2020 Women on Boards is to increase the percentage of women serving on corporate boards to 20 percent by 2020. Through diversity panel discussions, the group is educating participants about the importance of board diversity and redefining successful corporate governance. The campaign launched in 2010 and has seen increased momentum as the issue of diversity gains the attention of investors and lawmakers.
“A board should reflect the diversity of its leadership, employees, shareholders and community,” says Jennifer Winstel, senior vice president at U.S. Trust and an organizer of the 2020 Women on Boards Charlotte diversity panel event. “The national conversation is helping to create the education and awareness needed for change.”
Mary Winston has been a member of the Domtar board of directors since 2015. She is the former CFO of Family Dollar and now operates WinsCo Enterprises Inc., which advises companies on governance issues such as diversity. In addition to her work with Domtar, Winston serves on the boards of several corporations, including Dover Corporation, Acuity Brands, Inc. and SUPERVALU INC.
“There is plenty of evidence that a more diverse board is going to come to better business decisions and have better outcomes for the companies that they serve,” she says. “It’s clear to me and to many others, including my male counterparts, that gender diversity, as well as other diversity, is important.”
Williams agrees. “I have been proud to see Domtar’s board evolve to now having three women on our board of nine directors,” he says. “We are building a stronger company by intentionally creating a more diverse workforce and leadership, and an important signal of our commitment to that is reflected by a more diverse board of directors.”
Domtar’s percentage of female board members increased from 18 percent in 2012 to 33 percent in 2017. Nationally, too, the numbers are rising, and at least one state has enacted legislation requiring gender diversity on corporate boards.
Winston has seen growing diversity in the past decade. She joined her first corporate board, at Dover Corporation, in 2005. At the time, she was the only person of color on the board, and the second woman.
“When you’re the only one, it can be difficult to stand out on an issue,” she says, “especially if you express an opinion that people may expect because you are a woman or a person of color. Having more people on a board with a variety of viewpoints and experiences is valuable in many ways. And investors have taken note of this, too, which gets a boardroom’s attention.”
Learn more about 2020 Women on Boards.