Black Women on Boards (BWOB), a new global organization that removes the invisible obstacles that Black female executives face when pursuing board membership, today announced a new cohort-based board accelerator program for its members with the support of founding partnerships with DCVC, Diligent, Felicis Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and Sapphire Ventures.
Founding partners support BWOB mission
The accelerator program aims to place 100 percent of the cohort in board roles by the end of 2022, according to a press release. Founding partners will mentor their cohort executives via regular office hours and bespoke workshops. In addition, participants will be given exclusive access to CEOs from each venture firm’s portfolio companies. Founding partners will focus on providing visibility, networks and sponsorship to propel Black female leaders into public and private board seats.
Launch event kicks off 2022 Board Accelerator program
BWOB will host a launch event in New York City on Feb. 8, to kick off the 2022 Board Accelerator program, and to introduce its inaugural Board Accelerator cohort. The organization has also been invited to ring the opening bell at NASDAQ in celebration of Patricia Roberts Harris, the first Black woman to serve on the board of directors in 1971 at IBM, a Fortune 500 company.
“The most recent reports show that Black women account for just 4 percent of S&P 500 board seats,” said Robin Washington, co-founder of BWOB, and a board member of Google’s parent Alphabet, of Honeywell, and of Salesforce, respectively.
“We know there’s an opportunity to increase this number on public boards, and to go even further to include opportunities on private boards as well.”
“I’m thrilled that we have a deep talent pool of Black women executives who are board ready and who have the expertise to truly help companies achieve better business results in an increasingly complex world. I’m grateful for our sponsors and partners, who are committed to ensuring the success of this program,” added Merline Saintil, co-founder of BWOB and a board member of several public corporate boards including, GitLab, Rocket Lab, and Fortune 500 company, TD SYNNEX.
“Also, integral to our ethos of ‘Lift As You Climb,’ I’m focused on supporting mid-career women to accelerate their opportunities. As such, we will be dropping an NFT on Feb. 10, 2022 on the Versus Marketplace on Flow in partnership with Dapper Labs to fuel this program and more broadly engage our community in this new fast growing medium,” said Saintil.
“A diverse boardroom is critical to the long-term success of organizations and through the great work of BWOB, more diverse candidates will be connected with opportunities to guide companies through the turbulent and uncertain challenges they now face,” said Brian Stafford, CEO of Diligent Corporation, the global leader in modern governance providing SaaS solutions across governance, risk, compliance and ESG.
BWOB has experienced rapid growth and placement of Black female leaders
Founded in 2020, BWOB has successfully placed executives in board and advisory roles. Co-founders Merline Saintil and Robin L. Washington came together to formalize an approach that prepared candidates for success. They launched with a handful of members that were board ready, and then worked together to create shared visibility to upcoming public board opportunities. The organization grew rapidly and organically as more members began to explore their board eligibility, and refer their colleagues.
“I’ve had an incredible experience with BWOB and learned so much from the program,” said Ebony Beckwith, chief business officer and chief of staff to CEO Marc Benioff at Salesforce. She sits on the board of Poshmark and is an advisory board member for PagerDuty.
“In fact, I think it should be a prerequisite for anyone considering board service. BWOB helped me feel so much more prepared for the board recruitment process and a lot more confident in my journey to joining a public company board.”