At our organization, the Committee for Economic Development, we've developed an ambitious yet straightforward approach to the challenge at hand: we have initiated an effort to encourage corporations to replace every other retiring board director with a woman. We're not asking for term limits, or for boards to add the expense of incremental positions, or for early retirement of male directors, although if companies took any of these actions it would accelerate the process. We're just saying: replace every other director, as he or she retires, with a woman. Hence we have entitled our initiative "Every Other One." If corporations adopt this model, women will occupy nearly a third of Fortune 1000 board seats in just a few years and over time will reach parity in the boardroom.
As we head into 2016, resolving to put this issue at the top of the to-do list will represent a major step forward for the country. U.S. companies will add a competitive edge and, at the same time, the potential of countless female leaders will be realized.
Commentary by Steve Odland, CEO of the Committee for Economic Development and former CEO of Office Depot and AutoZone. Follow him on Twitter @SteveOdland.