Tech

The SEC approved Nasdaq’s plan for more corporate board diversity. Here are 21 female tech leaders ideal for those seats.

  • The SEC has officially approved Nasdaq’s plan for diversity on corporate boards.
  • For this list, originally published last December, Insider identified 21 female investors, founders, and CEOs working in tech ideal for corporate boards.
  • There’s Zoom CFO Kelly Steckelberg, and the investor and former Slack executive April Underwood.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In December 2020, Nasdaq shocked the financial world by announcing that the 3,249 companies listed on its main US exchange should have “at least two diverse directors” on their boards or risk being delisted.

Now that proposal, which has been under review by the Securities and Exchange Commission, has been approved. 

“We look forward to working with our companies to implement this new listing rule and set a new standard for corporate governance,” said Will Briganti, a Nasdaq spokesperson. 

The new rules require companies to have at least two diverse directors, one woman and one member of an underrepresented minority group. Nasdaq is also asking companies to report board-diversity data within a year of SEC approval — or face consequences.

Goldman Sachs is also now requiring that at least two board members come from diverse backgrounds or it won’t offer its services to private companies looking to go public. Last year, the Wall Street giant announced this policy, and at the time, required at least one diverse member on a company’s board.

“We might miss some business,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said in a statement announcing the policy in January 2020. “But in the long run, this, I think, is the best advice for companies that want to drive premium returns for their shareholders.”

Such mandates are now likely to set off a rush for female and minority board talent for both public and private companies. While there’s plenty of deserving candidates, companies will need to work harder to identify new directors instead of going back to the same executives over and over again, said Abby Adlerman, the CEO of Boardspan, a company that provides software and services to address corporate-board governance.

“That does not mean you always turn to Sheryl Sandberg to fill your board seat,” Adlerman said. To avoid the “Sandberg syndrome,” companies may need to think outside their network, said Pam Kostka, the CEO of All Raise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the tech industry.

“We have to create visibility and create networking opportunities for rising stars in tech so that we can match supply to demand,” Kostka said.

But the truth is, finding qualified, diverse candidates, particularly women, isn’t especially hard. Insider easily identified a list of top female executives, investors, and tech-industry leaders through a combination of original reporting, nominations, and interviews with tech executives.

Here are the 21 women in tech who are qualified to join any corporate board right now — including several that are already serving on boards. 

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