Jumping the Corporate Divide: Board Member and Visionary Arcilia Acosta
Story By: Kristian Jaime
Buzz words like “inclusion” and “diversity” have become en vogue across market sectors, yet women continue to be distinct minorities when serving as CEOs or prominent board members.
Data from a 2017 study sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation and Global Strategy Group corroborates that only six percent of CEOs in Fortune 500 Companies are women. While the study takes into account numerous factors as to why, the bottom line centers on a disparity in leadership roles.
For Arcilia Acosta, CEO of CARCON Industries & Construction, and STL Engineers, the road to serving on numerous Fortune 500 corporate boards started when preparedness and opportunity converged.
“It’s humbling to know that I am a part of decisions that affect thousands and even millions of people,” explained Acosta. “Because these decisions are so important, I am constantly expanding my knowledge base about the latest issues facing corporate America today such as cyber security trends, SEC rules, the EPA, corporate compensation, governance, and overall economic trends.”
Achieving the greatest good for the greatest amount of people is not always a clear path. With so many competing interests, corporate utilitarianism is nothing short of seeing a complete picture. For business magnates like Acosta, successfully leading companies as CEO or as a board member involves finding a balance in oneself as it does staying ahead of the curve. The breakneck speed of modern business, especially the lucrative oil and energy sectors, demands asking the best minds for the best determinations.
Then, it requires reflection.
“When I recognize the complexities of an issue, I look to our experts and consultants and welcome further one-on-one discussion of the pros and cons,” continued Acosta. “Although it takes more effort, I take the time for quiet reflection while weighing through a 480 page deck of pertinent information!
Collectively, I make decisions based on these and other important factors. All the while balancing the other aspects of my day including meeting with our companies’ leadership teams and sending my boys in college a daily hello.”
With the growing demand for both equitable and profitable energy solutions, the stakes for corporate boards are even higher. For that reason, decisions that start with a board vote quickly ripple across the nation and potentially the globe. For Acosta, that translates into serving on boards for very influential industries such as finance, banking and energy and power generation, and oil and gas. At hand are often convoluted quandaries like nuclear power, gas prices, coal mining, unions and the EPA to name a few. More often than not, questions surrounding interest rates, oil prices, risk assessments and corporate strategy and growth are not far behind.
With a growing number of women joining the ranks of board members and even CEOs, the question of women having the experience for strong leadership positions has been answered.
The anatomy of a sound decision is rooted in various factors. Yet, at its core, the principle of a vote outweighs the indignation of any single voter. The only real standard, in the end, is sound judgment and empirically based deliverables.
For many companies, progressive and inclusive policies stem from the top.
For that reason, Acosta offers a unique perspective to those aspiring to attain a balance as a CEO and as a Fortune 500 board member.
“I’m passionate about sharing my experiences and providing guidance on key steps for board service. I’m very fortunate that the [boards on which I serve] value my opinion and they too, see it as value-added to have me on the board,” Acosta continued.
With so much riding on a boards reflective of all employees, women in leadership roles seem all the more vital. “You really have to understand what your connection is to the industry of the boards you serve on. You start there,” concluded Acosta. “I believe that what makes me attractive to corporations is my background in finance and my 20 plus years as the sole owner and CEO of two companies.”