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Looking Past Gender

Hering, Brazil

For Hering, a $900 million market-cap retail company, female board diversity was not a deliberate strategy. New shareholders demanded a change in the composition of the board, saying that it was too homogenous, too old, and too financially oriented. CEO Fabio Hering set out to find more retail and digital experts, and ended up with two women on a seven-person board — quite unusual in Brazil. It was more about finding the right skill set than a specific gender play, says Hering. “I wanted to promote diversity regardless of gender,” he says.

Andrea Mota, one of the female directors, says that women with operating backgrounds are very much in demand — and very hard to find. “In every board I look at, I always see the same people,” she says. She suggests looking at women who have retired or stepped down from executive positions as a way to increase the pool.

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