November 1, 2023 – New York City-based Ellig Group has acquired Corporate Director Academy, a training program for those aspiring to become a corporate board director. “I didn’t want to just talk about board diversity, I wanted to do something about it,” said Maggie Wilderotter, the former Fortune 500 CEO and current corporate director, and champion of gender balance in the boardroom. “I always had one hand out front pushing myself forward and the other hand behind me pulling another woman along with me. That’s how my bootcamps got started; I could scale the momentum. I can think of no better steward to take the reins going forward than Janice Ellig.”
“The boardroom bootcamp will continue to be based on Ms. Wilderotter’s wisdom gained from her career service on over 50 boards coupled with the Ellig Group’s extensive experience placing corporate board directors,” the search firm said.
“Maggie understood that we aren’t going to achieve board gender parity overnight,” said Janice Ellig, CEO at Ellig Group. “With diversity at the forefront – she started this bootcamp to build the pipeline of new directors for generations to come. She has demonstrated that companies get better outcomes when their boards are a reflection of their company, employees, customers, communities and investors.”
Eight hundred participants have attended the Academy since Ms. Wilderotter debuted the program in 2019. The program is designed to examine the responsibilities it takes to be a top corporate board member, including the time and accountability required. “It not only educates and certifies women, men, and underrepresented groups about corporate board service, but also helps them maximize their networks and connections to board opportunities so they can be focused, intentional, and highly effective directors,” the Ellig Group said.
“The percentage of women on boards of companies was 16.7 percent in 2011, when as president of the Women’s Forum of New York we launched the Breakfast of Corporate Champions to honor those companies that exceeded 20 percent,” said Ms. Ellig.
Today, the percentage of women on S&P 500 boards is 33 percent. The continuing challenge remains creating a steady pipeline of exceptionally qualified women and members of underrepresented groups to fill board seats. This is our mission, which is aligned with the extraordinary impact Maggie has made. The opportunity to continue her work with the Corporate Director Academy is a perfect next step and it fits with Ellig Group’s six-month board readiness coaching program.”
The bootcamp is an intimate gathering of no more than 30 participants per program. It begins with a fireside chat over dinner, and is followed by a day-long series of sessions on boards, their structures, pathways to the boardroom, and the dos and don’ts that make top directors. The program concludes with a panel discussion of highly experienced corporate board directors. Each participant will receive a certificate of completion, a review of their biography, a personalized plan of action and be listed with Equilar, a strategic partner, as individuals for board consideration.
Achieving Boardroom Diversity Without Marginalizing Anyone
While women have come a long way, there is still a long way to go before we reach gender parity at the top levels of corporate America. As CEO of a women-owned search firm with the serious intention and track record of placing women and members of underrepresented groups in boardrooms and the C-suite (85 percent and 80 percent, respectively), Janice Ellig, CEO at Ellig Group, is deeply engaged with this particular struggle on a daily basis. “So, what I am about to say may sound like an oxymoron, but it is not,” she said. “While diversity must be considered a top priority in selecting corporate leadership, it should not be the sole criterion on which a selection is based. Rather, priorities have to be balanced to achieve the best and most equitable outcomes for good corporate governance.”
Ms. Ellig explains that pendulums often swing far to the right and far to the left, spending little time in the center. Following the murder of George Floyd, a pandemic, labor issues, the upcoming presidential election, inflation, and Russia’s ongoing war to control Ukraine, social unrest continues to be at a high point. “Companies are trying to balance these social-economic-political issues to protect employees, customers, communities, and investors while also doing the right thing to level the playing field with sound DEI best practices,” Ms. Ellig said. “Hiring diversity — and notably women, BIPOC, and other underrepresented groups — is currently on the minds of all CEOs, boards, chief human resources officers, and other leaders – as it should be.”
Ellig Group’s board advisory services focus on practical improvements to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of governance processes in organizations. The firm’s work engages boards and CEOs around the most strategic elements of governance, including value-driven director and CEO succession planning and ongoing board skill development and education.
Complementing its board advisory and executive search services, the firm provides clients a holistic approach to talent identification and development through its executive assessment capabilities, AI/analytics, and leadership development and onboarding programs. The firm said that its commitment to supporting diverse and inclusive leadership has resulted in a demonstrated long-term track record in which 75 percent of executives and 85 percent of board directors placed in client organizations being women and leaders from underrepresented groups.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media