33. Extraordinary Women on Boards: a force in advancing diversity and excellence on boards

January 1, 2022

After a fascinating career at Goldman Sachs, Lisa Shalett “retired” in 2015 – and two years later started what has become Extraordinary Women on Boards, EWOB, a peer-to-peer community of hundreds of women directors from the US and around the world, focused on advancing board excellence, modernizing governance and increasing board diversity.

In this episode Lisa talks about how Extraordinary Women on Boards started, how its membership exploded and how it has become an extraordinary force in advancing diversity and excellence on boards.

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Links

Extraordinary Women on Boards (ewobnetwork.com)

Lisa DeCarlo

Lisa Shalett Bio 

Quotes

When I look back on my somewhat eclectic career, twenty years of which were at Goldman Sachs, there were a lot of things that I did that ended up preparing me for what has become Extraordinary Women on Boards…it’s funny how my background danced in and out of risk-related topics and content-related topics and suddenly here I am spending a lot of time on those issues.

How Extraordinary Women on Boards came about

Extraordinary Women on Boards was unplanned, and after a career of paying attention to pain points and wish lists and identifying opportunities that largely comes from covering really important and smart clients, I found myself in a situation where having “left the building,” so to speak, wandering the streets of New York, I was meeting a number of women who were at the same life stage that I was then at: having stepped away from an accomplished career and trying to put together, I think what we call portfolio careers or portfolio lives.

I was very lucky to, quite unintentionally, end up on two boards, a public and a VC-backed board, and the women that I was meeting were also starting to serve on boards as part of their portfolios, and I found it quite amusing that the most interesting thing that these women would relate to in my background was that we were all on boards and we were all starting our board careers.

That led to 15 coffees in a row on the topic of boards, and in particular, a few needs and pain points that just kept emerging that led me to believe that I should bring this group of women who were all board directors together to meet each other.

What I was hearing during was as follows; number one, women board directors wanted to meet more women who were already on boards. Often they were the only woman on their board at that time. That was in 2016, not that long ago, and the first meeting of what became Extraordinary Women on Boards, even though intended as a one-off event was in the beginning of 2017.

These women wanted to talk about their board work. It’s not enough to have to claw your way into the board room, you want to be excellent in the boardroom. You want your board to be excellent. And there was something so inspiring about women who wanted to talk with other women board directors in order to just crush it in the boardroom.

One of the other things that I was hearing was that despite there being many excellent forums, there was often a situation in which women felt talked over. There’s been a lot of research about how that sometimes can happen, no offense to men, but sometimes that happens, and therefore these forums weren’t really allowing a dialogue in the way that these women wanted.

 

Impact of the Pandemic

When the pandemic hit, and anyone in this audience serving on any kind of board and certainly I’m sure the two of you remember vividly, it became a serious firehose experience. There was chaos. Boards were meeting 24/7. There were risks that folks were aware of, but that suddenly were all happening at the same time, and no one had really thought about the convergence of all those risks. And then there were completely new risks and issues on the table that no one had ever really discussed before, and so there was a tremendous need to get together and have discussions and really curate those discussions.

I remember one of the things from those days was there was suddenly so much information available. Your board was meeting all the time. You wanted to stay on top of everything. You only had kind of a tunnel vision of what your board was focused on, so it seemed like a compelling opportunity to bring people together, to compare notes, to get a horizontal view, and focus on all of these new risks.

It’s funny, I’ve sat in the same room, for now it feels like two years, and met through Zoom hundreds of truly extraordinary women, and we all would get together and have fantastic discussions. The goal was to leave the Zoom even smarter, go back to your boards and be even more influential, bring really good insights and figure out what the emerging best practices were going to be.

What Extraordinary Women on Boards Offers

We offer educational sessions that are really interactive, engaging Zoom sessions on important topics for board directors, and they’re not topics that are discussed everywhere in the same way. We really try to come up with an interesting angle, always yielding, per my Goldman training, “actionable insights,” and what are the questions that you can bring back to your boardroom.

We also curate a newsletter every week, which really scans the environment quite eclectically for articles that ought to be relevant for board directors and why. We have meet-and-greets so that people can still meet each other in Zoom, and we came up with a great format.

We also try to find our members board opportunities because one of the pain points that we’ve heard emerge is that, despite what you’re told- which is once you get on your first board, it’s easy to get on subsequent boards  – that is just not true. We love when people looking for diverse candidates reach out to tap our community of experienced directors.

Creating an environment to really learn

I mean, my gosh, you’ve had a successful career, but sometimes in the context of board work, especially if you’re new to boards, there are some super basic questions. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask those questions. Everybody has those questions. And so creating an environment where there’s immediate respect, you feel included, you feel welcomed, and there’s an assumption that we’re all going to learn from each other, I think that’s what helps the magic to happen.

One of the things that happens with Extraordinary Women on Boards is that we feel as if there are these really smart questions that need to be asked. There’s new information or best practices in this world of emerging best practices that the boardrooms need to hear. You can then go back to your boardroom and feel confident that you’ve got an insight that maybe the rest of the board might not have.

Big Ideas/Thoughts

I often think there’s so much effort put into finding a board director and not enough effort put into onboarding, as you mentioned. There needs to be much more intentionality around that because that’s going to make or break the success of that board director. And especially when they’re diverse, you want them to be successful, but to make someone feel like an only and just say, “Great, here’s your seat,” is not enough. Boards have cultures, and it’s so interesting to think about the dynamics in the room — so how are you setting the board up for success by bringing on any new member? It’s incredibly important.

It’s so interesting because when someone joins a board as a new board director they might be a very experienced board member on other boards, but they have joined a new board and there’s this weird dance that happens where someone doesn’t want to be so presumptuous as to immediately start asking questions, even though they might be incredibly thoughtful.  There’s a whole “beginner’s mind” thing that you don’t want to ruin the newness of somebody’s observations. You want to solicit it. So few times do boards solicit that from new board directors, “What are your impressions? How do you think about that?” There’s such an opportunity for feedback that’s missed – what a waste!

Transcript:

Joe: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to On Boards, a deep dive at what drives business success.

Hi, I’m Joe Ayoub, and I’m here with my co-host, Raza Shaikh. On Boards is about boards of directors and advisors and all aspects of governance. Twice a month this is the place to learn about one of the most critically important aspects of any company or organization; its board of directors or advisors, as well as the important issues that are facing boards, company leadership and stakeholders.

Raza: Joe and I speak with a wide range of guests and talk about what makes a board successful or unsuccessful, what it takes to be an effective board member, what challenges boards are facing and how they’re assessing those challenges, and how to make your board one of the most valuable assets of your company.

Joe: Our guest today is Lisa Shalett. Lisa is an accomplished senior executive, [00:01:00] corporate advisor, and independent board director with a remarkable breadth of leadership and operational experience over a 25-plus-year career, including 13 years as a Goldman Sachs’ partner. She has served on the board of every type of company; public, private equity-backed, venture capital-backed, family-owned, and nonprofit, and brings a deep understanding of stakeholder priorities and long-term value creation to the boards on which she serves.

Raza: Lisa retired from Goldman in 2015, and two years later founded Extraordinary Women on Boards, EWOB, a peer-to-peer community of hundreds of women directors from the US and around the world, focused on advancing board excellence, modernizing governance and increasing board diversity.

Joe: Lisa chairs the board of Generation W, a nonprofit organization that empowers women and girls. She is a distinguished scholar at Duke [00:02:00] University’s Coach K/Fuqua Center on leadership and ethics, a senior fellow of the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character at West Point, and she continues to advise growth companies and support high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. Welcome Lisa, thank you so much for joining us today on On Boards.

Lisa: Thank you so much for having me. I love this podcast, and I’m glad to be here.

Joe: Thank you. As I was reading your introduction, I was thinking, “How, does she have time to do all of this?” But I think if you give a little background of your life before Extraordinary Women on Boards, perhaps that’ll give folks a little context.

Lisa: It’s funny when I look backwards on my somewhat eclectic career, twenty years of which were at Goldman Sachs, there were a lot of things that I did that ended up preparing me for what has become Extraordinary Women on Boards, and so I spent the beginning of a career that I never expected to be on Wall Street in the [00:03:00] equities division at Goldman Sachs. I have a Japan background way back from when I was in high school and won a scholarship to live with a Japanese family subsequently learning Japanese, becoming fluent in Japanese and ending up in the right place at the right time as far as the Japanese economy taking over the world. Lo and behold, there was this job I discovered called Japanese equity sales that I did for a number of years. That’s what brought me into Wall Street and started my career at Goldman.

I worked in New York on the Japan desk there covering institutional investors who were looking to invest in Japan, finding it difficult to navigate. I tried to be a good Sherpa. I moved to Tokyo and ran the Japanese business for Sachs for a few years. I came back. I ended up in a merchandising role running the morning call in the fire hose of all that was coming out of Goldman Sachs’ research, how do you funnel that into the most important points for all of the salespeople, the traders, the [00:04:00]sales traders of such an important, interesting role as it related to content.

I was plucked out of the equities division and dropped into the chief operating officer role of global compliance and then stretched to legal and audit right at a time when pre-financial crisis, the world was blowing up in terms of the financial system. When Bear Stearns and Lehman went under, everyone, including Goldman, became a bank holding company, and I had a front row seat and frankly was working with some of the most brilliant risk geniuses in the world, and that experience still has shaped me and shaped my board work today.

Then after four and a half years of that, I raised my hand looking for my next thing and ended up in the executive office at Goldman Sachs running Goldman’s brand and ended up, at that time, being a brand that soon became known as the poster child for all that was evil on Wall Street. This was the financial crisis and it was a brand case study for the ages at a time [00:05:00] when digital and social channels were first emerging, and it really changed the nature of communication, advertising, marketing, et cetera. So, it’s funny how my background danced in and out of risk- related topics and content-related topics and suddenly here I am spending a lot of time on those issues.

Joe: It sounds like an incredible ride at Goldman. But when we talked recently, and I asked you how Extraordinary Women on Boards came about, I think what you said is it found you, which I found to be a really interesting way to think about it. We’d love to hear how it came about.

Lisa: Sure. It was unplanned, and after a career of paying attention to pain points and wishlists and identifying opportunities that largely comes from covering really important and smart clients, I found myself in a situation where having “left the building,” [00:06:00] so to speak, wandering the streets of New York, I was meeting a number of women who were at the same life stage that I was then at; having stepped away from an accomplished career and trying to put together, I think what we call life portfolio careers. Rather than doing one intense full-time role, you’re still spending a lot of time to your earlier point, but just doing a bunch of different things, and upon leaving Goldman and becoming eligible to serve on a board. I was very lucky to quite unintentionally end up on two boards, a public and a VC-backed board, and the women that I was meeting were also starting to serve on boards as part of their portfolios, and I found it quite amusing that with the background that I just told you, which wasn’t a typical background at all, that the most interesting thing that these women would relate to in my background was that we were all on boards and we were all starting our board careers.

That [00:07:00] led to 15 coffees in a row on the topic of boards, and in particular, just a few needs and pain points that just kept emerging that led me to believe that I should bring this group of women I had just met who were all board directors together to meet each other.

What I was hearing during was as follows; number one, women wanted to meet more women board directors. Often they were the only woman on their board at that time. That was in 2016, not that long ago, and the first meeting of what became Extraordinary Women on Boards, even though intended as a one-off event was in the beginning of 2017.

But women wanted to meet other women on boards. Women wanted to talk about their board work. It’s not enough to have to claw your way into the board room, you want to be excellent in the boardroom. You want your board to be excellent. And there was something so inspiring about women who wanted to talk with other women board directors in order [00:08:00] to just crush it in the boardroom.

One of the other things that I was hearing was that despite there being many excellent forums, there was often a situation in which you felt as a woman talked over. There’s been a lot of research about how that sometimes can happen, no offense to men, but sometimes that happens, and therefore these forums weren’t really allowing a dialogue in the way that these women wanted.

Joe: Why don’t we talk about how you connected with Lisa DeCarlo who’s the co-founder of Extraordinary Women on Boards?

Lisa: My co-founder Lisa DeCarlo is awesome. Thankfully she joined me in 2020 in August when this had become already a 24/7 thing for me. I found myself a startup founder, so I reconnected with Lisa. I had met Lisa in a very interesting way, a way that’s very relevant to Extraordinary Women on Boards.

Lisa, who also had had a very long and successful career in financial [00:09:00] services, very much kind of a builder and innovator inside of organizations having stepped out now to be an entrepreneur, one of the things that she had co-founded was this incredible program called The Decade Game, and I was very lucky to be able to attend one of The Decade Game workshops in November of 2019 right before the pandemic moved everything to virtual, so this was in-person, focused on helping women think about their lives in decades and really develop goals, and it was so aligned to how I was already thinking about my portfolio life. This is the brainchild of Carolyn Buck Luce who really created this notion of The Decade Game. We had already connected about this life stage, and when we came together, I had a community that was focused on boards, but also overlapped with the life stage. Lisa and I were still completely obsessed and passionate about transitions, about women in these transitions and this [00:10:00] point of kind of re-imagining retirement and we decided to go all in on the community of boards and try to combine those interests as best we can. It’s been so much fun to work with her.

Joe: Yeah, none of this sounds like retirement to me, by the way, but it sounds like something else, but I understand that’s the word that sometimes people use when they stop their primary career, but the portfolio careers that you’re describing, if anything, are more involving.

Let’s talk a little bit about that first meeting of what turned out to be Extraordinary Women on Boards, and then what happened when COVID hit, because I think what you’ve told us is that it kind of exploded after that, which is interesting.

Lisa: I got 15 women together that I had met in my coffee wanderings, and I didn’t just want to bring them together in a social environment because one of the things that I saw in common is that we all were interested in learning and sharing our collective wisdom, and [00:11:00] so I happened to be introduced by a friend to someone that your audience may know, Dave Chun, who is the founder and CEO of Equilar, and at that time he was doing some really cutting edge work with CalPERS and CalSTRS on board diversity. When we met and he told me that, I said, “Well, how much of this have you discussed with women board directors who are going to be very interested?” He said, “Honestly, my head’s been down. I haven’t even had a chance.” So, I said, “Okay, you’re going to buy lunch in a private room the next time you’re in New York. I will fill it with these 15 women who want to meet anyway, who will be very interested in what you have to say, and you will be able to have an amazing opportunity to get feedback.” He says, “I’m in.” So, that became this one-off gathering.

It was intended to be at the end of it like, “Okay, here’s everyone’s email addresses, let’s stay in touch.” Now, we know each other, and within 48 hours, every single woman who was in that room reached out to me and said, “You’re going to keep doing this,” and a side hustle was born. From that point on, every five or six weeks, I would find a law firm to host us. I would [00:12:00] gather this group together, and inevitably, as I found interesting topics to talk about, we did fireside chats and various things, women would want to bring other women who similar to them were already on at least one public or private for-profit board, and the group grew to a hundred just by word of mouth, nothing else, right before the pandemic.

Joe: When the pandemic hit, what happened?

Lisa: Well, when the pandemic hit, and anyone in this audience serving on any kind of board and certainly I’m sure the two of you remember vividly, like it became a serious firehose experience. There was chaos. Boards were meeting 24/7. There were risks that folks were aware of, but that were all happening at the same time, and no one had really thought about the convergence of all those risks. There were completely new things on the table that no one had ever really discussed before, and so there was a tremendous need to [00:13:00] get together and have discussions and really curate those discussions.

I remember one of the things from those days was there was suddenly so much information available. Your board was meeting all the time. You wanted to stay on top of everything. You only had kind of a tunnel vision of what your board was focused on so it seemed like a compelling opportunity to bring people together, to compare notes, to get a horizontal view, and kind of focus on all of these new risks.

We flipped to Zoom. Zoom was a lot easier than planning a physical event, and it was just me at that point. I just did more of them, and people kept showing up. The fact that they kept showing up encouraged me to keep doing more of them, and with the geographical constraints removed in terms of referrals, the group quickly grew to hundreds of women who were on boards and wanted to be a part of this, referred by other members.

It’s funny, I sat in the same [00:14:00] room, for now it feels like two years, and met through Zoom hundreds of truly extraordinary women, and we all would get together and have fantastic discussions, and the goal was leave the Zoom even smarter, go back to your boards and be even more influential, bring really good insights and figure out what the emerging best practices were going to be.

Joe: Yeah. Like a lot of things, as you pointed out, Zoom really had quite an impact on boards and a lot of other business endeavors. One of the things you mentioned, geographical diversity, I mean, for you and for this kind of organization where you want to share ideas and really talk about best practice and people’s experience, being able to include a broad range of people around the country, and I know in other countries as well, must have really given it some real energy going forward.

Lisa: There was a lot of energy in the Zoom. There still is [00:15:00] to this day. When you think about it, we represent hundreds of boards, and in addition, the community itself has such a wealth of experience and expertise that sometimes we wonder why we bother finding an outside speaker because there’s usually an expert in the Zoom, so to speak and the community has been really wonderful that way.

I’ll share one other observation about this hybrid world we live in. We actually tiptoed back into doing live events, and we did an event in New York right before Thanksgiving that was focused on crypto because one of the things that we want to do is make sure that we stay relevant and cutting edge, and it was in-person, like in the old days. It was a panel discussion, there was a small audience, and we tried to do very engaging conversations where we learned not only from the speaker, but from the members asking questions. It was so hard to do in person the same way you can do in a [00:16:00] Zoom. In a Zoom, it’s much more egalitarian and it’s much more inclusive because you see who’s asking a question, and sometimes my line of sight in the room prevented me from seeing who was raising their hand. You know the questions in advance because people are putting them into the chat so you can segue and manage a conversation much more thoughtfully than the mind reading or the surprise of who’s raising their hand and what they’re going to say can derail a conversation. And then some people are much more comfortable asking questions in a Zoom than in person, and so I’ve been reflecting on that ever since as to how we navigate going forward.

Joe: It is funny that we all refer to 2019, barely two and a half years ago, as the “old days,” because so much really has changed in a lot of what we do.

Raza: It has.

Lisa, , what is it today? What activities are you doing? How do you help members, and what is the shape of conversation for EWOB today?

Lisa: Sure. What we [00:17:00] offer are these, I’ll call them educational sessions. They’re really interactive, engaging Zoom sessions on important topics for board directors, and they’re not topics that are discussed everywhere in the same way. We really try to come up with an interesting angle, always yielding, per my Goldman training, actionable insights, and what are the questions that you can bring back to your boardroom. We’ve gotten good feedback on that. Curation is still a very important part of it. The firehose of both being out of the flow because you’ve left your organization that used to provide you with a lot of information, but bombarded by flow because we live in this firehose world.

We curate a newsletter every week, which really scans the environment quite eclectically for articles that ought to be relevant for board directors and why, and so we try to cultivate that. We have meet-and-greets so that people could still meet each other in Zoom, and we came up with a great format for that.

We also try to find our members board [00:18:00] opportunities because one of the pain points that we’ve heard emerge is that, despite what you’re told, which is once you get on your first board, it’s easy to get on subsequent boards, that is just not true, and so Lisa and I have become very scrappy trying to find opportunities, and in doing so, kind of help create more flow, more transparency, more access for our members, experienced board directors, and more opportunity to say, “Hey, this is what this board is looking for. Here’s why I think I’m a fit.”

In doing so, we have really helped a lot of our members get on more boards, and we’ve helped the world seemingly understand that, “Yes, there are diverse, experienced board directors. We have a whole community of that. Please come tap our community, and we’d love to help you find a great fit.” So, those are some of the things that we do, and we are very entrepreneurial about it and keep innovating.

Raza: That’s such a great community that you’ve gathered, Lisa, and to your point, I think the excuse of “we can no longer” is [00:19:00] no longer valid that we can’t find qualified women to be on boards. That’s really, really old.

Talk a little bit about that supportive environment that you wanted to bring where women can be comfortable having conversations that maybe they otherwise don’t. How has EWOB created that environment?

Lisa: Well, I just would say women are used to being in all kinds of rooms, boardrooms, meeting rooms where they’re not the majority represented in the room, so it’s not about being uncomfortable per se, it’s just about really, how are we going to have a very productive, thoughtful, and actionable conversation given that we all seem to share the very nerdy goal of excellence? We want to tap into the wisdom in the room, as I said, and also just want to learn together, and by not being talked over by being able to feel as if you can be an incredibly accomplished executive.

I mean, my gosh, you’ve had a [00:20:00] successful career, but sometimes in the context of board work, especially if you’re new to boards, it’s like having super basic questions. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask those questions. Everybody has those questions. And so creating an environment where there’s immediate respect, you feel included, you feel welcomed, and there’s an assumption that we’re all going to learn from each other, I think that’s what helps the magic to happen.

Joe: I was going to say being a board member is a different job, so even if you’ve had a career and you’re now moving into the boardroom, being a board member on an active company that is going to challenge you is a different kind of job, so it’s not surprising that whoever you are, it takes some work to kind of be as good, maybe as a board member, as you were in your other job.

I’d just say for the companies bringing new board members on, women, men, or whoever it is, onboarding is just as important as identifying and recruiting the people that you’re bringing onto your board. Because if you don’t do that right, then you’re [00:21:00] really not going to get kind of value from really, really potentially great board members that you otherwise would.

It sounds like you’re doing with Extraordinary Women on Boards, some of that work outside of the boardroom, which I think is terrific. It’s a great idea.

Lisa: Yeah, I think often there’s so much effort put into finding a board director and not enough effort put into the onboarding, as you mentioned. There needs to be much more intentionality around that because that’s going to make or break the success of that board director. And especially when they’re diverse, you want them to be successful, but to make someone feel like an only and just say, “Great, here’s your seat,” is not enough. Boards have cultures, and it’s so interesting to think about the dynamics in the room, so how are you setting the board up for success by bringing on any new member? It’s incredibly important.

The other thing that I think surprises me is just that there’s not yet mandatory director education. It seems very much board by board, and so you [00:22:00] might be a very experienced board director, but that doesn’t mean that your information is as relevant as it used to be when you joined that board. It doesn’t mean that you’re as cutting edge. It really depends on your own discipline, and so I think that more can be done in that arena as well.

Joe: I had no question about that. I think just to your point, companies put so much time into identifying and recruiting even one board member and then drop the ball because, as you put it, it’s not just bringing that new member on and making sure he or she really has the best possible chance at succeeding greatly, it’s also creating the board culture. Because if that isn’t working ,then the whole culture changes. It is at least as important as the actual bringing on the board member, you have to make it work. It’s like bringing a new member of a team. If that team is working right, then even though the parts may be all really, really high-end, it may not be a great team, so to really [00:23:00] to work on it.

Again, what you’re doing, I think you didn’t do it intentionally, but instinctively, you’ve found something that is so important to developing good board members and helping make high-performing boards.

Lisa: It’s so interesting though, because when someone joins a board as a new board director, they might be a very experienced board member on other boards but they joined a new board, there’s this weird dance that happens where someone doesn’t want to be so presumptuous as to immediately start asking questions, even though they might be incredibly thoughtful, and there’s a whole beginner’s mind thing that you don’t want to ruin the newness of somebody’s observations. You want to solicit it. So few times do boards solicit that from new board directors, “What are your impressions? How do you think about that?”

There’s such an opportunity for feedback that’s missed out, and then that board director, just out of respect and deference to the rest of room culturally, might sit [00:24:00] there for like six months and either be told that they’re not supposed to ask questions. They’re just supposed to listen. They’re a new board director or wonder whether it’s appropriate for them to ask new questions and what a waste, what a waste.

One of the things that happens with Extraordinary Women on Boards is that we kind of can feel as if there are these really smart questions that need to be asked. There’s new information or best practices in this world of emerging best practices that the boardrooms need to hear. You can go back to your boardroom and feel confident that you’ve got an insight that maybe the rest of the board might not have and get over the hurdle that one might feel.

I’m not saying women feel this any more than men, but get over the hurdle that maybe as a newer board director, you might feel when you’re not sure if you’re supposed to speak or if you’re going to bring something that the board will find relevant. There’s just a lot of wasted opportunity there.

Joe: No [00:25:00] question, and one of the things you said is just so right on the money, which is it’s a wasted opportunity to hear a fresh perspective. The idea that a new board member should just listen for a while. Well, yeah, of course, to some degree that’s true, but this is an opportunity to hear something that you have missed, and if you’ve spent the time to recruit this board member, why not take advantage of it right at the beginning. There’s just no reason for that.

Lisa: Yeah. I also think that being amongst other board directors, like maybe you’d serve on a few different boards, so maybe you have a wider perspective than just one board, maybe you’re on three or four boards, but even so in this environment, my gosh, what will the best practices be? To be able to get together and have the perspective of hundreds of boards, really enables you to add value in a new way, and hopefully, members of Extraordinary Women on Boards are adding even more value to their boardrooms. That’s what we hope.

Raza: Lisa, at Extraordinary Women [00:26:00] on Boards, what are the topics and conversations today?

Lisa: Sure. I don’t know that any of these topics will be particularly surprising to anyone who’s in your audience. These keep coming up over and over again. We like to look at sources of outside pressure because that is dialing up big time. Especially in the ESG world, there are so many different ways to scrutinize data to call out companies in a way that represents risk in new ways, and also to identify opportunities to figure out how to do things really well.

It’s very interesting to look at the different stakeholders and their voices and think about from the boardroom what that means and what new risks are. The other things that we look at, not surprisingly, the whole hybrid work arrangement, how we think about talent, how the board should care about retention, about leadership, about wellness and mental health, topics related to trust.

[00:27:00] Especially in technology, what are the ethics of algorithms of AI? How do we think about that? How do we tie things into compensation and reward? I mean, sometimes the topics are around committees because the scope of committees has changed as talent has become such an important issue as, do you have a separate ESG committee? These kinds of things that are kind of at the forefront of how boards should think about operating well is interesting.

Sometimes we talk about how to get on boards or public and private and what the difference is. We talk about how to have leadership within the boardroom, and we just had a session on the audit chair’s perspective. We talk a lot about various ways to see around corners. We had a fantastic session on cyber where we didn’t just talk about like, “Well, here’s what cyber is.” You’re left with a framework. You’re left with smart questions that just [00:28:00] aren’t being asked enough. That’s what we try to do.

Joe: One of the things that you’ve mentioned a few times is risk identification and talking about risk, and I wanted to mention that one of our favorite guests in the past was David Koenig who started the DCRO. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them, but I try to let everyone know about them because he has started an organization that trains people to be qualified risk directors and in the world we’re living in, especially as we’ve gone through COVID, and to really focus on risk that maybe wasn’t as acute as it was prior to that, but I think it’s just a fabulous thing to keep in mind. Do you know DCRO?

Lisa: I’ve heard of it, but haven’t had the pleasure of talking with anyone from that organization yet, but I’ve heard of it from some of our members as well.

Joe: Well, we’ll connect you

Lisa: Oh, fantastic. Thank you.

Joe: You would have a great conversation with David, that’s for sure.

Raza: Lisa, what boards are you currently serving on?

Lisa: [00:29:00] I’m currently serving on four boards ,and that might sound like a lot, especially given what I’ve just told you, but they’re all different boards, and I personally find that really intellectually stimulating. I’m on one publicly-listed board, which is PennyMac Financial Services, so the ticker is PFSI; AccuWeather, which is a well-known brand, but actually a family-owned company; Bully Pulpit Interactive, which is a cutting-edge digital company that’s PE-backed; and my most recent board is Empower Partners, which is a VC fund where I’m the independent board director and it was founded by some powerhouse women in Japan who many of whom I know from my Goldman days who started the first women-founded VC fund in Japan and also the first fund focused on ESG so very aligned with interests of mine.

Raza: Oh, that’s tremendous. Not to get into any specific [00:30:00] issues, but the combination of the boards that you were on, are they facing similar type of issues that you are talking at EWOB about?

Lisa: As a board director myself, I think that sitting in the boardroom is the perspective that we try to bring to the conversations that we have. If we’re not relevant, then why bother? But there are definitely issues that are cutting across all of these boards that I sit on for sure, and then there are things that not surprisingly are just specific to the boards, but I find that there’s a lot of convergence around the same kinds of topics and that makes the discovery of emerging best practices more important.

Raza: Yeah, it’s current, it’s fresh. You’re seeing the same things, and that’s what you were bringing to your audience. Lisa, how can people connect to Extraordinary Women on Boards, and how can they become members of your organization?

Lisa: Sure. We have a website it’s ewobnetwork.com, and there’s a way to community with us through that. We, as I [00:31:00] said, are a peer-to-peer community for women already on at least one public or private for-profit board. That is a requirement of all members. Sometimes that creates a really difficult situation when an extraordinary woman who is not yet on a board reaches out to us, we try to be helpful, but we also try to stay focused, and so we’re trying to think about how to potentially serve that group as well, but I think reaching out through our website is a great way to do that.

Joe: Fantastic. We will encourage people to do it, and we’ll post that on our website as well.

Lisa, it’s been a great conversation today. Thank you so much for joining us, and thank you all for listening to On Boards with our special guest, Lisa Shalett.

Lisa: Thank you so much.

Raza: We have a request for our listeners. Please take a moment to rate and review On Boards Podcast on your Apple Podcast app if you enjoyed listening to it. It really helps others discover our podcast. Also, you can visit our [00:32:00] website at onboardspodcast.com. That’s onboardspodcast.com. We’d love to hear your comments, suggestions, and feedback.

Joe: Please stay safe and take care of yourselves, your families and your communities as best you can. Raza, you take care too.

Raza: You too, Joe.

Joe: Thanks.

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