Catalyst Women On Board™
Mary B. Cranston
It’s About Sponsorship
Catalyst Women On Board™ is building a cadre of talented women corporate directors to solve the boardroom diversity challenge in Canada and the United States.
Our exclusive cohort of mentor/sponsors understand that who you know matters enormously to a candidate’s ability to be nominated and selected. Their active sponsorship of women board candidates is essential to enabling women’s advancement to boards and to enabling companies to find and appoint strong women board candidates.
Board Diversity Matters
Diversity at all levels of an organization, including the board, is a key driver of business performance. Smart companies know this and make diversity an intrinsic part of their corporate strategy and ensure their board members are representative of their customers, shareholders, and stakeholders.
What Catalyst Women On Board™ Does
Each year we invite exceptional senior executive women, considered to be strong candidates for corporate board appointment, to join Catalyst Women On Board™. We then pair these women with experienced corporate board members who mentor and champion them in their approach to attaining corporate board appointments for two years.
Catalyst Women On Board™ uses similar criteria that a corporate board would use when seeking to fill a director vacancy. Key criteria considered are:
- Track record of 10+ years of strong performance at the senior executive or C-Suite levels with a large company, reporting directly to the CEO, or has responsibility for a major business unit
- For consultants, should have demonstrated leadership experience plus a deep knowledge and expertise in a specialty sought after by corporate boards
- Engaged in driving the overall strategic direction of her organization
- Experience working with boards
- At a point in her career when she has the capacity for serving on corporate boards while in her current role
- Has the support of her CEO or Board Chair to take part
Being part of Catalyst Women On Board™ can have many benefits. Alumnae members have reported that they:
- Built relationships with influential business leaders
- Gained new perspectives on their skills, style, and value proposition
- Received guidance and advice important to becoming a corporate director
- Broadened their understanding of how boards really work
- Gained knowledge that helped them in their daily work
While Catalyst Women On Board™ was created to benefit women, many of our mentor/sponsors say they also benefited from their partnership. They:
- Built relationships with women who are qualified corporate director candidates
- Gained a broader understanding of women’s experience in the workplace
- Contributed to their partner’s success in a variety of ways
- Felt they helped an important initiative – improving diversity in corporate boardrooms
Catalyst Women On Board™ pairs women corporate director candidates with experienced corporate board members for two years.
- Identifying Catalyst Women On Board™ Women: Based on Women On Board’s Selection Criteria, potential participants are identified largely through the Catalyst Corporate Board Resource listing of CEO-endorsed women.
- Selecting Catalyst Women On Board™ Women: A selection committee chooses the women who most closely match our selection criteria. Selected women are invited to join Women On Board.
- Selecting Mentor/Sponsors for Individual Women: We identify potential board sponsors considering several factors such as, experience, skills and expertise, networking potential, location, personality, and the individual woman’s needs and interests. Potential board sponsors are presented to each woman for consideration and she decides who among them is the best fit for her. A match is considered confirmed when both parties agree to work together.
Throughout the two years, Catalyst Women On Board™ regularly connects with our women and board sponsors to ensure they are meeting and making progress, and to offer assistance and advice.
- Meet at least 8 times over 2 years
- Meet in person for 2-hour meetings or determine an alternative schedule that works for both parties
- Women participating drive their partnerships, arranging meetings, calls, travel, etc.
- Strategize together to set real, obtainable goals for the women, plan, and execute
- Discussions are confidential
- Board Sponsors begin as mentors and over time evolve into sponsors. That is, the mentor/sponsors begin to champion the women as candidates for corporate boards and assist the women in broadening their connections with other sitting directors.
- Provide feedback to Catalyst Women On Board™ about issues and progress
- Women participate in a program evaluation
Women who join Catalyst Women On Board™ require their company’s sponsorship.
- $10,000 – Women with Catalyst Supporter companies
- $12,000 – Women with non-Supporter companies
In the US:
- $12,000 – Women with Catalyst Supporter companies
- $14,000 – Women with non-Supporter companies
Catalyst Women On Board™ launched in Canada in 2007 with 5 women and their mentoring partners.
The program was founded by Partick O’Callaghan of Patrick O’Callaghan and Associates and Carol Stephenson, Former Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business.
Korn/Ferry International Canada was also an important contributor to the development of the program early on as a sponsor and through the support they provided to identify qualified candidates and mentors for the program.
In 2013 Catalyst acquired Catalyst Women On Board™ and the initiative found its permanent home in Catalyst’s Corporate Board Services.
In 2015 Catalyst Women On Board™ expanded beyond Canada to launch in the United States.
United States: Meesha Rosa
Canada: Bridget McKellar
Find out which board candidates and mentors/sponsors are participating in Catalyst Women On Board in the US.
See the board candidates and mentor/sponsors participating in Catalyst Women On Board in Canada this year.
Find out which Catalyst Women On Board participants have been appointed to a corporate board recently.
Catalyst Corporate Board Services works to increase board diversity by advocating for gender diversity in corporate boardrooms around the globe.