Recruiting Women to the Board of Directors
When Ilene Gordon joined Ingredion Incorporated as chairman, president and CEO in 2009, the Company’s board was 50 percent diverse but only 20 percent of directors were female. A pioneer in board gender diversity, Gordon had been the first female director of five different public companies. She recognized the need to seat more women on Ingredion’s board while continuing the board’s legacy of diversity.
To enhance the board’s gender diversity, Gordon began by broadening the search criteria related to recruiting efforts, looking beyond the obvious CEOs to other C-suite executives, like CFOs and division presidents/GMs. She reached out to directors of other boards on which she served, tapped the Ingredion board’s network, and engaged professional search firms.
With the board’s support, she parlayed this effort into a broader commitment to workforce diversity. She required two things of Company leadership: begin taking a critical look at diversity metrics and ensure openings at the director level and above reflect a diverse candidate slate whenever possible. These practices continue today.
Additionally, diversity and inclusion was codified in the responsibilities of one of the Company’s HR Directors, and a Diversity and Inclusion Council was formed. The Council reviewed best practices in corporate diversity and developed a diversity and inclusion strategy. Designed to attract, promote and retain diverse talent and to foster an inclusive workplace, the strategy is currently being implemented.
On a broader diversity measure, Ingredion’s board is 70 percent diverse with four women, two Latino men, and one African-American male. In 2016, 50 percent of external hires at the director level and above were women, growing the representation of women globally in these positions over two percentage points from 2015 to 2016. The representation of people of color for U.S.-based director-and-above positions increased almost five percentage points from 2015 to 2016. The company continues its focus on increasing representation of these groups in manager-and-above positions.
At Ingredion, diversity of all kinds has been a major asset in our business. We are taking action to increase the diversity of our workforce and create a welcoming and inclusive culture which helps us maintain our competitive advantage. The CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge strengthens our commitment and will help us enhance our efforts by enabling us to learn from other leading organizations.