Established in 2004, ION is the national consortium and stakeholder organization whose mission is to increase the number of women appointed to corporate boards and to executive officer positions.

ION's Member Organizations represent nearly half of the 28 million women working in management and professional roles across the nation. ION is the only confederation of regional organizations in the US engaged in this work. To learn more about ION, go to

Recent News and Research Updates

Women in the C-Suite

A recent Peterson Institute for International Economics study found that more women in top corporate positions companies correlates with improved financial performance (net profit margin). The research included more than 21,000 companies in 91 countries and examined the levels of gender diversity among CEOs, corporate directors and C-suite officers. The study also looked at national policies that encourage women's participation in the workforce, including family leave and access to education. According to the researchers, "what matters most for gender diversity is creating a pipeline of women into corporate management, from elementary education through child-bearing years."
While improved performance was the good news, the study also found that 60% of the companies had no women on their boards, 50% had no female top executives and only 5% had female CEOs. 

GAO Report on Corporate Boards: What You May Have Missed

The recent GAO report on Corporate Boards - Strategies to Address Representation of Women Include Federal Disclosure Requirements - received a fair amount of media attention for its calculation that it would take more than four decades for women's participation on boards to match that of men's. 

What got lost in most of the coverage was that the projection was based on women receiving appointments to boards in equal numbers to men starting in 2015. That's more than double the current average - right now women receive approximately 23% of new board appointments each year. 

The study is worth a read - in addition to the data analysis and projections, it reports on a series of interviews the GAO staff conducted with stakeholders (investors, board members, and CEOs) on factors contributing to the low number of women on boards and the strategies that could be used to increase the number of seats held by women. 

Also in the News

  • Just in time for the Super Bowl, the NFL announced that it will extend the "Rooney Rule" to executive positions in the organization. Moving forward, all executive searches will require that the pool of candidates include women.  More details to come.
  • BoardList aims to become the source for matching female board candidates with director opportunities. The database already includes the profiles of more than 1,000 female board candidates and is hosting 40 active searches for board candidates.
  • Fewer operational & strategic opportunities - not differences in competency levels - are linked to less advancement & lower pay for women.
  • SEC Chair Mary Jo White announced that board diversity disclosure requirements will be under review in 2016.
  • 90% of companies in India have complied with a law to increase board gender diversity, but most add one, nonindependent female director.
  • Op-Ed: focus on getting more women on boards shouldn't ignore the need for gender diversity at all levels of the organization.
  • Business schools are making progress on gender diversity, but it's not clear that top jobs will be the pay-off for women.
Women in Tech
Fast Company recently reported on a study of gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the tech industry. More than 200 women, all with at least 10 years of work experience, participated in the study.  Some of the findings included:
  • 60% reported being the target of unwanted sexual advances from a superior.
  • 33% indicated that there have been times at when they had feared for their safety in a work-related situation.
  • 66% reported that they had been excluded from networking opportunities and social events because of their gender.
  • 75% indicated that they had been asked about marriage and family plans in interviews.
Gender Gap in Self-Esteem
An international study on the gender gap in self-esteem (the subjective view of worth as a person) uncovered some interesting differences.
  • Easy to predict: men have higher self-esteem than women - in any country, at any age.
  • Not as obvious: the gender gap in self-esteem was larger in wealthier, developed nations with higher gender equality (based on indicators in educational attainment, political empowerment, economic participation, health and survival rates).
The authors of the study suggest that the gap "is likely the result of specific cultural influences that guide self-esteem development in men and women." 

Conscious Inclusion

ManpowerGroup recently released 7 Steps to Conscious Inclusion: a Practical Guide to Accelerating More Women into Leadership. Based on interviews with 222 leaders in 25 countries, the guide highlights differences in the responses of men and women and between generations (Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers) to questions related to the barriers to gender equality and what it will take to close the gap. Among the steps the guide recommends: leadership has to own it, succession planning that challenges assumptions, hiring people who value people, and being explicit about expectations. 

Gender Equality: Raising the Bar on the Conversation

Read the first in a series of articles that take on "women make choices" and other, all-too-common phrases that keep us from addressing the real issues related to gender inequality. It's time to get past the clichés when we talk about gender equality.  By Julie Graber.

Upcoming Conferences and Symposiums

March 8-9, New York International Women's Day Forum
(U.S. Chamber Foundation Corp Citizenship Ctr and UN Office for Partnerships)
May 10, Stockholm, Sweden Gender Equality in the C-Suite and Boardroom: Navigating Institutional Investor Demand & Business Capability (Skytop Strategies)
June 9-11. Warsaw, Poland Global Summit of Women
June 16-17, New York 12th Annual Women's Leadership Conference (The Conference Board)
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