Tech CEOs: Gender Diversity Not Top Priority

Most see adding a specific skill set as more important than gender when filling board positions, according to a new survey.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

February 24, 2016

3 Min Read
Tech CEOs: Gender Diversity Not Top Priority

More than 60% of tech CEOs don't think gender diversity is very important when it comes to filling their board positions, according to a new survey from Qualtrics and the Boardlist, a curated marketplace for potential female board members.

The Boardlist, which officially launched out of beta in Europe last month, sent tech CEOs and founders who are backed by over 30 venture capital firms a survey on how they fill their boards. Thirty-eight percent did indicate that gender diversity is very important, but another 38% rated it "less important" and the remainder fell somewhere in between. (See WiCipedia: Faulty Feminism, Worthy Women & Peculiar Perks.)

That's not to say they don't value gender diversity. Three-quarters said that it can lead to enhanced board effectiveness, and 65% said it can enhance company performance. But other forms of diversity, such as diversity of opinion and thought, were rated more important, survey participants said. Nearly 70% said that adding a specific expertise to the board was either extremely or very important. (See More Women in Tech Is Critically Important.)

Women in Comms' first networking breakfast of the year will be taking place on March 10 in Denver. Register here to join!

Finding both qualified female candidates and those with specific expertise isn't a mutually exclusive task, of course. But these tech CEOs also echoed a past complaint -- that it is hard to find women for the job. Eighty percent said there are a sufficient number of qualified male candidates for their board, while only 50% said there were enough women. (See Half of Tech CEOs Struggle to Find Female Board Members.)

From the surveyed group, 73% said finding female candidates with the right experience was a major barrier to adding gender diversity to their board; 79% said the time it takes to source a gender diverse slate of candidates was a major issue; and 65% said finding female candidates that fit their board's "culture" was a challenge. (See Championing Change: It's a Cultural Thing.)

The Boardlist is hoping to use data from the survey results to refine how it presents its female candidates based on what matters to tech companies. Its ultimate goal is to increase diversity at the executive level of technology companies to rectify the fact that, it estimates, 75% to 78% of privately funded company boards do not have a female director.

The Boardlist at launch includes more than 1,000 highly qualified women with endorsements from over 200 CEOs, business leaders and investors across industries. It says it currently has 40 searches in progress.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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