The news that Wal-Mart (WMT) has invited Google (GOOG) VP Marissa Mayer to join its board of directors signals a trend. Fortune 500 boards are looking hard to recruit social media experts. And their quest is bringing a lot of women to the directors' table.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is on the Walt Disney (DIS) board.
Clara Shih recently joined the board of Starbucks (SBUX). The founder-CEO of hot startup Hearsay Social replaced Sandberg, who quit her directorship to focus on Facebook's pending IPO.
Meanwhile, Facebook's female execs are much-desired recruits. Emily White, who directs mobile partnerships for the social-media behemoth, joined the board of Lululemon (LULU)--which is not yet a Fortune 500 company but on its way to be. White's colleague, Katie Mitic, who is Facebook's director of platform marketing, is on the board of eBay (EBAY).
A Facebook alum, venture capitalist Ali Rosenthal of Greylock Partners, joined AutoNation's (AN) board last year. Another prominent VC, Sonali De Rycker of Accel Partners in London, went on the board of IAC (IAC), Barry Diller's media company.
Time Inc. (TWX) CEO Laura Lang, who used to be the global head of digital marketing agency Digitas (PUBGY), became a director of apparel giant VF (VFC) last fall...and now we have Mayer on the board of the world's largest retailer.
Mayer, who oversees Google Local and Maps, joined the company in 1999, when she was a fresh Stanford grad and Google had fewer than 20 employees. At 36, Mayer is the youngest woman ever to make Fortune's Most Powerful Women list. She ranks No. 38.
Spencer Stuart's Jim Citrin did the search for the Wal-Mart directors, who are eager to help the company compete online, especially against Amazon.com (AMZN)
Considering all this interest in social media prowess, we have to wonder: Why are the boards of big companies zeroiing in on women, vs.men?
Juliet de Baubigny, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, thinks the trend isn't just about killing two birds—directors' desires for diversity and social media expertise—with one recruit. "Many of the businesses that you list have a significant number of female customers," de Baubigny says. "So, having an up-and-coming woman is a reflection of their customer base." De Baubigny, once a recruiter back in the first dot-com bubble, notes, "Emily White gives Lululemon someone who understands social media, search, commerce and mobile--and is a great reflection of their customer set. That's a powerful combination."
One current recruiter who is watching the trend with fascination is Bonnie Gwin of Heidrick & Struggles (HSII). She says that the only thing that boards may desire more right now is BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) experience--"with a lot of emphasis on China and Brazil." Gwin, who is vice chairman and co-managing partner for Heidrick's North American CEO & boards practice, adds, "Diversity is top of mind for boards. Gender, ethnicity, age and global diversity. Non-U.S. citizens or someone who has lived outside the U.S. for a long time are in demand."
For more on women directors in tech, check out "Why Your Next Board Member Should be a Woman" by Kleiner Perkins partner Aileen Lee.
Meg Whitman is the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Not interim chief. This is Whitman's for-real next big gig.
And it is big indeed, given that the storied Silicon Valley company has lurched from chief to chief to chief ever since the board, in 1999, eased out Lew Platt and recruited Carly Fiorina from Lucent (ALU).
Fiorina was the first No. 1 on the Fortune Most Powerful Women list, at the top MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 22, 2011 5:05 PM ET
FORTUNE -- Here is what Carol Bartz thinks of the Yahoo (YHOO) board that fired her: "These people f---ed me over," she says, in her first interview since her dismissal from the CEO role late Tuesday.
Last evening, barely 24 hours after Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock called Bartz on her cell phone to tell her the news, she called from her Silicon Valley home ("There are reporters at the gate… a MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 8, 2011 11:00 AM ET
Linda Robinson is leaving the PR firm Robinson Lerer Montgomery to join BlackRock.
Linda Robinson sounded like Oprah in her stunning announcement that she's leaving her namesake PR firm, Robinson Lerer Montgomery, to join BlackRock. "The last 25 years have been an amazing journey and I'm excited for the next chapter in my life," she wrote in a Monday afternoon email that bounced around Manhattan and across corporate America's upper echelons.
Robinson's MOREPatricia Sellers - May 18, 2011 12:22 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
The takeaway was pretty discouraging this week when Fortune and recruiting giant Heidrick & Struggles (HSII) co-hosted a discussion on women and boards.
The participants -- members of the Fortune Most Powerful Women community convening in Washington, D.C. -- came up with lots of reasons that "corporate boards get a D for diversity" (the title of my Postcard on Monday). Such as: the club-like culture of boards, the white MOREPatricia Sellers - May 5, 2011 10:16 AM ET
Save the Children released its 2011 State of the World report today, ranking the world's best and worst places to be a mother. At the top of the list: Norway, Australia and Iceland. Afghanistan ranks last, while the U.S. comes in at No. 31 among the 43 developed countries ranked. Former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy, who chairs Save the Children, wrote an essay for the report and offered to share it MOREPatricia Sellers - May 3, 2011 10:04 AM ET
By Patricia Sellers
When I started my career at Fortune in 1984, corporate America was a land of white men. As I say in my talks about women and power, bosses back then were white men without facial hair.
We've come a long way—just look at Fortune's Most Powerful Women list.
But a new report on Fortune 500 board composition, released by the Alliance for Board Diversity this morning, should make diversity champions weep.
The MOREPatricia Sellers - May 2, 2011 7:37 AM ET
Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who got trounced in the race for California governor last November, has a new career plan: Venture capital with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
By Patricia Sellers
Meg Whitman, who is in Hawaii until Wednesday with her neurosurgeon husband Griff Harsh, declined to comment, but sources close to her and to the venerable Silicon Valley venture capital firm say that Kleiner will bring Whitman in as a MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 29, 2011 2:54 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Women face a narrower band of acceptable behavior than men do. Women can be powerful. Women can be likeable. Being both is difficult to do.
Last week, I was in California, the ultimate proving ground for that theory. California is the place, after all, where three well-known women -- former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Carly Fiorina, former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi -- have learned that MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 31, 2011 1:25 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Where in the world are the fewest women on major corporate boards?
Japan, according to a study, out today, by Corporate Women Directors International. The Washington-based group, known as CWDI, counted women directors at the 200 largest companies on Fortune's Global 500 list.
As of year-end, Japan has the most companies with no women directors: 19. The all-male boards include Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC), Nissan (NSANF), Panasonic (PC), and Toshiba MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 26, 2010 2:06 PM ET
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