Summary List Placement
Women make up 60% of TheRealReal’s board, up from 38% just two years ago when the company went public.
The online marketplace for consigned luxury goods announced former Neiman Marcus Group CEO Karen Katz and Good American CEO Emma Grede have joined its board on Friday, moving the needle from 4 women out of 8 board members to 6 out of 10.
“We started off with almost all men, so it was me, Maha and the guys,” TheRealReal CEO Julie Wainwright tells Insider, referring to Maha Ibrahim, general partner with venture capital firm Canaan.
And part of the problem was, as a venture-backed private company CEO, Wainwright had little control over who was on her board.
“You don’t really pick your board members privately. You may pick your investors, but with those investors come some board seat,” said Wainwright.
After the company went public in June, 2019, Wainwright went on a solo mission to change the makeup of the board because she felt too many of her board members had similar traits and backgrounds as venture capitalists or private equity guys.
With Friday’s addition of Katz and Grede, Wainwright says she’s closer to her vision of creating a board that is reflective of the company’s diverse community.
“We’ve got Emma representing entrepreneurial women in high-growth e-commerce businesses, and then Karen on the luxury side, and together, they bring an incredible depth of retail and fashion industry experience to the table,” said Wainwright.
Still, there’s still more work to be done. Among the 3,000 largest U.S. publicly traded companies, one in 10 boards still have no women, according to research pulled by TheRealReal.
But new rules are trying to end such dismal statistics. In December, Nasdaq proposed that companies on its exchange have at least one female board on their board, or risk being delisted. Goldman Sachs similarly announced that it would not offer its services to private companies looking to go public unless the company has at least one diverse member on its board.
Surprisingly, Wainwright is not a fan of these efforts.
“I don’t like quotas. I think it’s demeaning and I think it’s horrible. I think it’s bad for the women that just get slotted in being a woman on the board,” said Wainwright. “If you’re going to join a board, you really need to bring something to the table.”
Quotas or not, such rules may have an impact in causing companies to try and recruit more woman. In the last two weeks, Silicon Valley has stepped up its efforts to help bring more diversity and inclusion into the boardroom, especially for startups. A startup called theBoardlist, a talent marketplace that connects diverse candidates with board opportunities, raised $2 million in its first round of seed funding, the first institutional money ever raised.
And several big-named VC firms — including Sequoia, GGV Capital, and Sapphire Ventures — have joined All Raise’s new program called Board Xcelerate to get more people from diverse backgrounds on the boards of fast-growing tech companies.
For her part, Wainwright said she does not belong to theBoardlist or All Raise and did not use an executive search firm to find her board candidates. Instead, she recruited Katz and Grede the old fashion way, by “courting” them through years of persistent emails, and phone calls.
“I find them all a little obscure and maybe a little opaque in how they operate,” she said of board recruiting initiatives and their $10,000, $55,000 or higher fees.
Originally published at https://www.businessinsider.com/60-of-therealreals-board-is-female-without-mandates-2021-2 on .