Equal Measure: Board Watchdog Has Seen Women Make Strides

Ten years ago, when French headhunter Floriane de Saint Pierre decided to delve into diversity — or more accurately, the lack of it — on the boards of fashion companies, she said investors were not much concerned. Nor were boards of directors interested in self-assessments or benchmarks.  

“Homogeneity in the boardroom was still the norm: Same gender, same age, same nationality, same or similar education, and most of the time members had only finance or banking expertise,” she recalled. “There was a lack of industry knowledge. The purpose of the board was strictly financial. I couldn’t understand how boards with those qualifications were making such important decisions. It was a call to action.”  

So she plowed ahead, self-financing her Ethics & Boards project — and foreshadowing the growing industry and public conviction that company leaders should reflect the diversity of the customers they serve.  

“Boards must be designed to help build sustainable and inclusive growth,” she said in an interview. “This includes making sure the company has a purpose and its board is equipped to monitor ESG [environmental, social and corporate governance] at 360 degrees.”
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