By all accounts, Governor Charlie Baker gave a successful speech about gender equity during a breakfast held by The Boston Club, a group that advocates for advancing women’s careers, at the Westin Copley Place hotel on Friday.
But not everyone left the room satisfied.
Baker talked about how there were many women on the board of directors when he ran health insurer Harvard Pilgrim. He mentioned how he has hired women to be his top aides, such as administration and finance secretary Kristen Lepore and transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack. And he urged other male executives to essentially expand their circles of friends, to get more women into boardrooms. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Malli Gero, cofounder of the Boston-based 2020 Women on Boards campaign, said she considers Baker to be “one of the guys that gets it.” But she said she walked away disappointed when Baker passed up on the chance during the Q&A to show more support for a nonbinding resolution, passed by both the House and the Senate earlier this year, recommending that corporate boards with at least nine members have a minimum of three women on them.
When asked later if Baker supports the resolution, press secretary Lizzy Guyton said, by e-mail, that Baker “believes companies should strive to increase gender diversity on boards by setting goals and disclosing their makeup,” but she stopped short of endorsing any numeric targets.
Gero said setting specific goals on this issue is important.
“I think he could have made a bolder statement,” Gero said. “Unless you really talk about very concrete things that the business community should do, we won’t see change. ... We’re looking for more concrete initiatives coming from the governor.”Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.