MBA@Simmons Joins the National Conversation on Board Diversity

Last month, SimmonsLEADS partnered with 2020 Women on Boards to host events across the United States and the globe to discuss ongoing efforts of companies to increase the number of women on executive boards. The National Conversation on Board Diversity was held in 30 cities across the U.S. and included nearly 5,000 participants. At the event on the Simmons University campus, panelists included Deborah Jackson (Cambridge College), Gail Marcus (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), Corey Thomas (Rapid7), and moderator Regina Pisa (Goodwin, Simmons University).


One of the topics panel members discussed was the “boy’s club” mentality of many executive boards and the perceived need to play golf to be accepted. But panelists disagreed with this myth, saying the emphasis should be on networking and not playing golf. Jackson, lead director of Eastern Bank, pointed out that golf is simply a metaphor for relationships. She highlighted the importance of the social fabric of an executive board, and how you “play in the sandbox” is just as important as your technical skills. 

Panel participants emphasized the role and importance of networking in their own personal journeys to becoming board members. Learning to work on a team, and learning how to give constructive advice and criticism, will allow board members to work together with companies to build something great.

In fact, Forbes recently published an op-ed highlighting why female entrepreneurs should join women’s networks. A 2018 Facebook study launched in the United Kingdom found that female founders who are part of a business community are twice as likely to forecast growth compared to those who are not. Networking is crucial across all levels of business — whether founding your own company or pursuing an invitation to join an executive board.

Learn more about how the online MBA from Simmons University fosters networking through our immersion experiences and virtual classrooms. Immersions and interactive classrooms allow students to develop deeper relationships with fellow classmates and faculty and participate in hands-on, collaborative learning experiences.


One theme woven throughout the panel was the topic of innovation. Innovation may require a calculated risk, but all panelists agreed that we cannot innovate without taking these risks. When asked if there is a unique contribution from women on executive boards, Marcus agreed. Boards lacking diversity simply are not as effective; the backgrounds and experiences of board members matter. With that thinking in mind, Jackson cautioned hopeful board members against joining executive boards where they might feel like a token, or joining an executive board whose business they don’t care about.

The discussion closed with an emphasis on the need for expanding the scope of diversity beyond gender. Women are the best allies for board diversity, said Thomas, and should encourage racial diversity as well as gender diversity.

For more information on how the online MBA from Simmons University can help you become an advocate for promoting diversity in the business world, visit our website.