YW Boston & partners launch the first Parity on Board Regional Forum
On Monday, August 2nd, 5:30-6:30PM, YW Boston will be hosting a virtual Parity on Board regional forum for South Eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Islands in partnership with the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts. This forum will be an opportunity to learn more about why parity on boards is urgent and crucial, how to support the legislation, and perhaps how to apply for a board yourself. If you are curious about board service or the legislation and from South Eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Islands, sign up today.
The data show that women and people of color are ready to serve on Massachusetts boards and commissions. And yet, we have a long way to go to reach gender parity and increased representation of people of color. So, in the spring of 2019 YW Boston announced it would be forming a coalition to pass the Parity on Board legislation which would require that most public boards and commissions in the state to have no more than 50% of one gender and be racially and ethnically reflective of the communities they serve. The Parity on Board Coalition works to not only advance “An Act to Ensure Gender Parity and Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Public Boards and Commissions” (H.3157/S.2077), but also to educate future leaders in the Commonwealth about the importance of board service to their communities.
The coalition was formed after a Women’s Power Gap Report from the Eos Foundation found women, people of color, and particularly women of color woefully underrepresented on the 50 most prominent boards and commissions in Massachusetts. In 2019 women comprised only 39% of board members, 34% of board chairs, and 22% of CEOs, with women of color making up only 6% of board chairs and 2% of CEOs. Women and people of color account for 51.5% and 28% of the state’s population, meaning that our boards are not representative of the state of Massachusetts. A 2021 update found that while some progress has been made for white women and men of color, women of color have not been appointed to any new board leadership positions. We must take action now to prioritize and elevate the public leadership of women of color in the Commonwealth. At the 2019 hearing for Parity on Board State Auditor Suzanne Bump stated “When there is gender imbalance on [boards], and when other racial and ethnic groups are not included, the Commonwealth loses the opportunity to have all perspectives come to bear on a matter, and democracy and its people are the poorer for that.”
We hope you will join us on August 2nd to learn more about the legislation and education efforts. If you are not a resident in that region, no worries! This is the first in a series of regional events focused on the advancement of women, people of color, and especially women of color on our state boards and commissions. Our coalition is always growing, if you are interested in joining as an organization or an individual you can sign up and take action at the Parity on Board website. You can also follow us on social media for updates and news about the legislation and events. Finally, if you are interested in joining a board or commission yourself you can learn more by downloading the toolkit and by let us know here. We make better decisions about our present and our future when the leadership of Massachusetts reflects Massachusetts.
About YW Boston
As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and F.Y.R.E. Initiative, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.
YW Boston is leading the Parity on Board coalition and advocating for legislation to ensure gender parity and racial and ethnic diversity on public boards and commissions. But representation won’t improve unless public boards commit to fostering inclusive workplaces that can support these diverse candidates and unless these candidates of diverse backgrounds answer the call to serve. Visit parityonboard.org to learn more about getting involved in a public board or commission in Massachusetts, or to sign up as a coalition partner in support of more diverse leadership in our Commonwealth.