Holiday Musings

Musings in the Holiday Season

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." I recently attended The Boston Club corporate breakfast where Maureen Miskovic, EVP and Chief Risk Officer of State Street Corporation spoke about today's economic reality in the context of historic discontinuities and with an eye to opportunities in the future. Using the opening of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, she talked about the peril and the promise inherent in the times we face. I found her literary reference perfectly to the point:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way."

At Leading Women, we're staying focused on the promise of what we and our members have before us and on finding ways to support our members who are in transition. Keep your eyes open for upcoming FREE services for members in transition.

A Team of Rivals. Much has been made of Obama's selections for his cabinet and advisory teams. I'm reveling in the diversity (which has only increased since I wrote this blog entry). At the same time, I'm delighted in the example of leadership he's setting by advocating for robust debate. Vigorous dialogue has been cited as success factors by Jim Collins in Good to Great, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in Execution and numerous other successful executives and leadership researchers. Bringing this style of leadership firmly to the fore will benefit women - who generally favor this more collaborative approach to leadership over a command and control model.

Eyes on the Prize. On Saturday, I had the amazing experience of watching two bucks fight over a doe in the woods right outside my bedroom window. Listening to the clack of their antlers was a sensation and watching the escalation of effort was intriguing to me it was to the doe. Eventually she wandered off. I found it ironic that the bucks (having lost sight of their goal) kept fighting. The message to leaders in this: keep your eyes on the prize, when conflict escalates, bring the focus back to the customer, when adversity threatens, don't develop tunnel vision (see FedEx below).

Conscious Consumption and Giving. In RI, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts' Buy Local RI initiative made official an impulse that had been growing in me. Once during the height of the oil prices I realized that to fill my gas tank would be the equivalent working for a portion of time for the oil company. Boy, did that make me want to buy less oil - and that impulse caused me to be more conscious of how I was spending my money.

As the economy worsened, I found myself focused on finding ways to support local businesses before, during and after the holiday season. Instead of donations to the local food bank, for example, I went to my locally owned market and bought food to donate. When possible, I bought gifts from local stores. I focused my charitable donations on organizations that support girls and women. Instead of adding material to the land fills, I've continued to find ways to donate and recycle. Lastly, after this year of incredibly tight races (is MN decided yet??), I've made political contributions to candidates whose values resonate with mine.

Following the FedEx Lead. A standing ovation to FedEx CEO, Frederick Smith, for creatively addressing the economic challenges. Instead of laying people off and feeding the vicious downward economic spiral, he is taking a 20% pay cut. Other senior FedEx executives will get a 7.5%-10% reduction. FedEx's remaining U.S. salaried exempt personnel will draw a reduction of 5%. These moves are accompanied by a hiring freeze and other measures. At a time when CEO compensation is over 300 times what core workers make, this is a strategy that should be followed by every other company. I commend Smith's leadership - for FedEx and for business in general.

As we move into this year of remarkable challenges and historic change, may you stay focused on what's before you and the spring of hope.

I wish you all good things in the New Year.

Lead On!


Honor and Shame

Catalyst's 2008 reports on women on boards and women corporate officers was released this week. Among the information they released were lists of companies with over 25% women on boards and women corporate officers. The honor role includes these companies which are in the top 25 on both lists:
  • Kraft Foods
  • Macy's
  • Office Depot
Something to think about when you spend your dollars.

There are over 90 companies that have 25% or more women corporate officers and over 70 that have 25% or more women directors.

The halls of shame (companies with no women directors or no women corporate officers) include these well-known companies:
  • Hertz
  • Fidelity National Financial
  • GMAC
  • Hershey
  • Apple (darn, I LOVE Apple!)
  • Blockbuster
  • DELL
For links to the complete lists go here for corporate officers and here for directors.

For more on how Leading Women supports women's success and the activities of internal women's networks, visit our website.

Macho Cultures Driving Women Away

Human Resources Executive picks up on a study first reported in HBR in summer, 2008 that finds that women are leaving (or being driven from) science, engineering and technology positions in high numbers.
"Over time, some 52 percent of women working for SET companies have quit their jobs as a result of hostile work environments and extreme job pressures, according to the Athena Factor...

Hewlett and her team identified several of what they called the antigens in SET corporate cultures. They include hostile macho cultures, created by the male-dominated lab coat, hard hat and "geek" workplace environments, which exclude women or intimidate them through sexual harassment; isolation, in which a woman finds herself as the lone scientist or researcher on a team or site; and the systems of risk and reward, whereby women have trouble taking risks, often due to feeling a lack of support or mentoring.

"All these issues are interrelated," says Hewlett, "and very powerful when it comes to work/life balance issues: These are extreme jobs in which the average working week can be 73 hours, and women are also dealing with home and family issues. I think that cuts women to the core."

A February study on Women in Technology by Catalyst had similar findings.
"Women in technology were less likely than other employees to perceive that their companies had strong approaches to fairness and voice, with such things as advancement, promotion and salary," the study states."
To find out which companies are taking steps to address these problems and what the steps are, read the article here.

Uneven Progress

Many organizations around the country track local progress on women at the top of organizations and on corporate boards. Last week The Chicago Network released its most recent statistics and the results are mixed.

"2008 Census key findings:

  • Women directors increased from 14.3% from 15.0%, the highest level since The Network began tracking.
  • Six companies, up from four, have no women directors.
  • Women executive officers increased 0.4% to 14.4%, after falling for two consecutive years.
  • The number of companies with no women executive officers grew from 12 to 16
  • The number of companies with no women among top earners rose to 36, from 31."
Look for the report here.
Read the Chicago Tribune article here.

To Golf, or Not to Golf...

...that is the question for many women as they climb the corporate ladder. High profile women who golf include Dawn Hudson, former president of Pepsi-Cola North America, designer Vera Wang and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The source TravelGolf article notes the advantage of not being left behind when male colleagues hit the links and keeping your information flowing. And, it has several links to information about the Executive Women's Golf Association - a great resource if you're planning to take up the game or looking for opportunities to play.

Stopping the Brain Drain DownUnder

We have problems here in the U.S., and so do our sisters in Australia. Susan Heron, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Management is quoted...
"...although women represented 50 per cent of tertiary graduates, the number of women in executive ranks was only about 10per cent. ''Research also consistently shows that women executives earn significantly less than their male counterparts in some cases they are paid just half what a man would earn.

''ABS data tells us that across the workforce women earn 16 per cent less than men.''

As reported in the CanberraTimes.

The $ Value of Networking

One of the postings in this blog was Boston Globe coverage of a study that identified a dollar value of networking. Studying executives who purchase and sell their company's shares, the University of Michigan professors found that men and women don't benefit equally from the trades. Although all executives made money, men made more. And the finance professors who conducted the study attribute the differences to this:
" seem to have better access to inside information - a leg up on networking with the other (mostly male) executives." (e.a.)
In this time of economic turmoil, there is another reason to continue to invest in your strategic relationships. As I've reported in the past - after a job loss, women at senior levels have a harder time getting re-employed than men. The reason? A less robust safety net of strategic relationships.

It's common in challenging times for people (and organizations) to contract, but as Kathleen Hittner, CEO of The Miriam Hospital has said, "You can't shrink your way to greatness."

So, find ways to continue to extend yourself in ways that make sense - and one of these is extending your strategic relationships.

This is an excerpt from my monthly Lead On! newsletter. To view the entire newsletter (and see all that Leading Women has to offer), go here. To become a subscriber (or GOLD Member), go here.

Women in Historic Proportions?

I wrote in an earlier posting about my vision for the country under the Obama/Biden administration
"My vision for the country? An America where young girls viewing the news (paper, TV, web) see their gender represented in historic proportions..."
I haven't paid such close attention to prior administrations' appointments, but I have to say I'm impressed with Obama's track record so far. One of his senior advisors will be Valerie Jarret (photo above). His Energy and Environment advisory team looks to be about half women - including women of color. His economic team includes key women.

Of the announced appointments that I've logged, he's pretty close to 50% women and with substantial diversity. I'm using the press room for the info.

Do You Have Extraordinary Talent?

Patricia Sellers of Fortune asked a number of their 50 Most Powerful Women how they identify extraordinary talent. I particularly like Susan Arnold's (see photo above) answer because it tracks substantially with my definition of leadership.
“How do you define extraordinary talent?”

Susan Arnold, president of global business units at Procter & Gamble (PG) and No. 7 on Fortune’s 2008 Most Powerful Women list, said: ”They’re owners. They treat the business like they own it. They’re leaders. They create a vision and lead people in that direction. They consistently deliver above expectations. They deliver. They deliver. They deliver. They create great organization that can deliver without them.”

Ursula Burns, president of Xerox (XRX) and No. 10 on Fortune’s list, said: ”They’re people who can learn and have flexibility. They’re fearless. They make a decision, and when they find out it’s not right, they change and get on with it. They pick great people. They’re patient. They realize that the problems of today weren’t created today and won’t be necessarily solved today. Among those four characteristics, the one I look for most of all is fearlessness.”

It would be helpful for you to know how the executives in your company answer this question, but if you don't, take the tips from the women above.

Will the Glass Ceiling Thicken?

from Management Issues

"An analysis of assessments and psychometric testing of more than 65,000 people by management consultancy Hudson has concluded that the innate ability of many women to be altruistic, people-oriented, co-operative and open lends themselves much better to leading modern-day organisations.

Yet it is these very traits that stop many women progressing within their organisations.

As a result, many women end up adopting or mimicking "male" leadership traits in an effort to break into senior leadership positions.

And with more organisations promoting traditionally "male" traits of decisiveness, persuasiveness and leadership in order to survive the downturn, women are going to find it even harder to make an impact at high levels.

Karen Scott, managing director of Hudson UK, said: "We are concerned that companies might adopt a short-term view that reinforces the hierarchy of men over women in their efforts to succeed during a recession."

More Benefits of Women at the Top

In October, Brenda Barnes, CEO of Sara Lee announced the launching a new program for women (and men) who want to return to the workplace after a time out (as she did). These "returnships",
"...will offer experience in marketing, brand management, sales or professional staff roles, Ms. Barnes says. Recruiting for the first group is expected to start this week, and a second “class” of 10 to 12 returnees is planned for 2009.
Actually, Sara Lee isn't the first. Goldman Sachs announced the same plan earlier in the year. As reported in the WSJ.

A recent Forbes report highlights the ways that the supportive-spouse (see prior post) role is different for executive women than for executive men.
"Senior-level women in all industries often find themselves flying solo at company dinners, cocktail hours, and award presentations because their husbands plead their own work commitments or find it awkward to play a secondary role...What about calling on a regular "walker" or male friend to bring to the party? That went out with Truman Capote. "Women today are not preoccupied with having an escort. It's a dying phenomenon," says Mosbacher. Some high-profile women, though, are often seen out on the town with a family member. Mosbacher's sister Lyn Paulsin accompanies her, while Vogue editor Anna Wintour brings her daughter, Bee Shaffer."
I don't know, I kind of like the idea of an escort (tee hee).

The Debate...


...moves to Wales and UK.

Citing Norway's nearly overnight achievement of 40+% women on corporate boards, David Williams wonders whether Wales and the UK should pass similar legislation. The arguments for and against are typical, but at least it's getting an airing. I haven't seen a similar article in the states recently.

Would that it could happen here!

Valkyries on Board!

In 2003, Norway legislated a 40% representation of women on corporate boards - a percentage to be met last January. Since then, Norway has taken the lead as the country with 44.2% of women directors. This up from a mere 6% in 2001! Norway is well ahead of second place Sweden with 26.9%. From Britain's Guardian:

Thjømøe and Sætersmoen agree that fresh blood makes for more competent boards. "Decisions are made in the room and not in pre-discussions among people who know each other privately," says Thjømøe, "and that is key because the board has a legal and financial responsibility."

She adds: "Selection committees have become more professional and look wider to find candidates. They are not just selecting the man sitting next to them, who looks exactly like them." But she also points out that this was already happening with the increased focus on corporate governance in recent years.

"The pool to choose candidates from is larger, so there are more opportunities to find good candidates," says Sætersmoen, adding that it is understandable why women had difficulties getting board positions. "When you pick a board member, you want someone you know and trust, so it has to be a person from your network. But for many, their networks don't include a lot of women."

Sætersmoen said the quota has enabled boards to monitor management more closely. "You are getting more independence as you are recruiting from a larger pool. It makes it easier for directors to ask the difficult questions that are necessary in critical situations."

Stats from CA

"The fourth annual UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders found that only 13 of California's 400 largest public companies have a woman CEO. Overall, women hold just 10.9 percent of board seats and executive positions -- insignificant progress from 2007, when the figure was 10.4 percent, and from 2006 and 2005, when it was 10.2 percent...

And another testament to the positive impact for women of having women at the top.

"For the second year in a row, the No. 1 company was Nara Bancorp Inc., a Los Angeles-based firm that serves consumers and minority-owned businesses through 21 branches in California, New Jersey and New York. Half of the firm's executive and board seats are held by women.

"Top talent and diversity go hand-in-hand, and makes us a stronger company," said Min Kim, president and CEO of Nara Bancorp. "We believe a passion for one's job, a desire to learn and lead, and a commitment to work/life balance will always win."

Joining Nara Bancorp in the top five were Bare Escentuals, headquartered in San Francisco, with women in 45.5 percent of top leadership posts; Bebe Stores, headquartered in Brisbane, with women in 42.9 percent of top leadership posts; AMN Healthcare Services, based in San Diego, with women at 36.4 percent; and Hot Topic, based in City of Industry, at 36 percent...


Women in top executive suites

  • The percentage of companies with a female CEO has remained stuck at 3 percent since 2005.
  • Overall, only 12 percent, or 334, of the 2,782 senior executive officers in California's largest 400 public firms are women, up slightly from 11.6 percent in 2007 and 11.7 percent in 2006. Women held 8.2 percent of the highest-paid executive posts at the 200 firms studied in 2005.
  • It's lonely at the top. Of the 206 companies that have women in top management, only 61 have two women on the executive team (executive teams average seven members). Only 26 companies have three or more."

Global Gender Gap

As promised in an earlier post, here's a link to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report.
"Norway (1) leads the world in closing the gender gap between men and women, according to the overall ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2008. Three other Nordic countries – Finland (2), Sweden (3) and Iceland (4) – also top the Report’s Gender Gap Index. Previously higher ranking countries such as Germany (11), United Kingdom (13) and Spain (17) slipped down the Index but stayed in the top 20, while Netherlands (9), LatviaSri Lanka (12) and France (15) made significant gains. Featuring a total of 130 countries, this year’s Report provides an insight into the gaps between women and men in over 92% of the world’s population."
And where does the U.S. stand? #27

European Attitudes

If you think the situation for women in Europe is that different, know that it isn't...and might be worse. Catalyst and Work and Family Institute released a survey of women and men in European companies. As reported in Talent Management (and with emphasis added).
"Among the study’s highlighted findings:
  • There was no difference between what men leaders and women leaders plan to do if they leave their current employers.
  • Women and men leaders in Anglo Europe were most at risk of leaving their current employers within five years. Women and men leaders in Germanic Europe were least likely to leave their current employers within five years.
  • Women and men leaders in Latin Europe reported lower satisfaction than Anglo and Germanic European leaders about company commitment to talent diversity.
  • Women leaders were less likely than men to receive constructive feedback and to see promotion and work assignment decisions as fair."

Stats of Interest

Using as a springboard the historic (though still grossly unrepresentative) numbers of women in the House (74 as of today) and Senate (17), Sara Reistad-Long of the WSJ takes a look at where women stand in business and in perception. Some interesting stats:
"The Pew Research Center, which examines attitudes toward public policy issues, showed in an August study that 69% of American men and 68% of American women think both genders make equally good leaders. Moreover, a survey conducted by the White House Project, a women's leadership advocacy group, found that when respondents were asked whether they'd be comfortable with a woman leader in 19 possible jobs, for no position did the respondents' comfort level dip below 70%.

Among the 27% of the Pew survey respondents who reported that women and men couldn't lead equally, only 6% ranked women the better choice. This, despite the fact that on the survey women outranked or tied men in four of the five qualities -- honesty, intelligence, compassion creativity and decisiveness -- respondents graded as essential for leadership. (Men trumped women only on decisiveness.)"

Okay, I Know it's Not Business...

...but it's historic, nevertheless.

Many of you know that I ride and frequently talk about leadership lessons learned by accomplished equestriennes. As a matter of fact take a look here and here. Anyway, for the first time in 436 years, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna has had women riders in training. And all because there is a woman at the top! Another example of why it matters to get women to the top of organizations. See beautiful photos and read the story here.
"Allowing women to sit in the saddle marks a distinct break with tradition. But for Elisabeth Guertler, the director, opening up the exclusive club reflects the realities of modern life...

Spanish Riding School spokeswoman Barbara Sommersacher said Guertler, who started managing the institution less than a year ago, personally pushed for the candidacies of women to be taken into consideration.

“For her, it just wasn’t acceptable,” Sommersacher said. “For Ms. Guertler, traditions are good as long as they’re adapted to current times.”'

Network Your Way to Wealth

This finding should be required messaging to every woman about the importance of her strategic relationships. As reported by the BostonGlobe with emphasis added by me:

"RUMORS OF THE death of the old boy network may be exaggerated. Three finance professors at the University of Michigan examined insider trading records for public companies over a 30-year period to see how women executives compared to men. Although all executives tended to profit when buying their own company's stock, men did better on average than women in the same position. This difference was not explained by greater confidence, risk-taking, or opportunism on the part of men. Instead, the data suggest that it's because men seem to have better access to inside information - a leg up on networking with the other (mostly male) executives.

Bharath, S. et al., "Are Women Executives Disadvantaged?" University of Michigan (September 2008)."

50 Women to Watch from the WSJ

I love these issues...So many inspiring women. So many different paths. Such diversity! See them all here.

Related WSJ article: I DO Know How She Does It (juggling career and family)
"According to a study conducted by the Families and Work Institute a nonprofit research organization that addresses the changing nature of work and family life. And Catalyst a nonprofit organization that works to expand opportunities for women in business, 65% of women executives have children compared with 90% of male executives...The study also challenged conventional wisdom that executive women in high-status jobs tend to give up their personal lives. In fact, 70% of women who reported directly to the CEO or reported to someone who reported to the CEO had children."

Women Economic Advisors

I'm so delighted to see Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox (2nd from the right) among Barack Obama's economic advisors. Anne - the highly acclaimed architect of Xerox's turn-around from the brink of bankruptcy came out as a democrat providing good balance to Carly Fiorina who supported McCain.

The other two women are Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan (behind Barack's right shoulder) and Penny Pritzger, CEO Classic Residence by Hyatt (2nd from the left).

UPDATE: apparently there's another woman who appeared with Barack's economic transition team - Laura D'Andrea Tyson, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton. Laura is one of two possible women nominees for head of Treasury. (The other is Sheila Bair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures bank deposits up to $250,000.)

They joined an equally esteemed list of men (including the legendary Warren Buffet). You can read the names here.

Why should we care? As reported by Women's ENews:
"Job losses in the wake of the recent economic collapse were concentrated among women, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. At the end of October, the number of unemployed adult females rose from 3.3 million to 3.6 million, a 9 percent increase, according to the Nov. 7 report. The number of unemployed men jumped from 4.8 million to 5 million, a 4 percent rise."

Obama/Biden's Agenda for Women

Wondering what the Obama/Biden administration has in mind for women? Well, you can find the agenda here...and women's concerns are defined as far ranging to include:
  • Healthcare
  • Research into Women's Health
  • Supporting the Right to Choose
  • Preventing Unintended Pregnancy
  • Preventing Violence Against Women (here and abroad)
  • Pay Equity
  • Investing in Women-Owned Small Businesses
  • and more...
AND you can go here to share your vision for America with the President and VP-elect. Here's what I wrote:
"NPR has run a series entitled "This I Believe" and every time I heard a listener essay I was reminded that I believe in women's power to lead. My vision for America includes more women in leadership positions and a sustained focus on women's issues.

This has been an historic election season for women. I have the audacity to hope that the Obama/Biden administration will capitalize on the increased visibility of women in order to tap frequently less visible, but highly qualified women leaders for key positions in the administration, in the federal government and on the courts.

I commend you for the issues on the women's agenda and hope to see great progress on all of them - including a pro-choice majority on the Supreme Court and guaranteed access to birth control. Though it might not be immediately obvious, these two issues are related. Research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston several years ago found that the increase in women's earning power directly correlates to our reproductive rights.

My vision for the country? An America where young girls viewing the news (paper, TV, web) see their gender represented in historic proportions and grow up knowing they have the opportunity to be and do whatever they want because their control over their bodies is protected."

AND here's another call to action from Linda Basch of the National Council on Research for Women.

Dismal News from DownUnder

This post is an update to an earlier posting.

This year's Australian Census on Women in Leadership shows a decline in the numbers of women at the top of organizations there. (This is a similar trend that's been reported here in the U.S.) As reported by
"In two years, the proportion of women executive managers in the biggest 200 public companies has fallen from 12 per cent to 10.7 per cent...Women hold a mere 8.3 per cent of board directorships, down from 8.7 per cent in 2006...Only 5.9 per cent of these senior line management roles are held by women, down from 7.4 per cent in 2006."

Behind Every Successful Woman... might find a supportive husband.
"The in-depth analysis of 20 senior women workers is published in the latest Journal of Family Issues.

Authors Souha Ezzedeen and Kristen Grossnickle Ritchey said research generally showed women executives did not get as much support from their husbands as men get from their wives.

However, this study shows some women advance because of supportive husbands. They reported six main areas where husbands helped: emotional support, household help, help with family members, esteem support, career support and choosing supportive career and lifestyles."

Read the posting here.

Read the abstract here.

Beyond Barbie

Women role models in all kinds of positions are so important for young girls and women. This is why I think EthiDolls is awesome. And the fact that the company is founded by women is equally exciting.

EthiDolls, has been co-founded by two Ethiopian born women now living in the New York City area. They tell the stories of African Women Leaders from history and designs the authentic dolls that represent them.

You can read more here about these dolls that are WAY beyond Barbie...and the American Girl series.

You go, EthiDolls!

Women in Politics

Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand
I've always wanted to visit New Zealand...all the more because it's elected women as Prime Minister. Currently, Helen Clark is already one of the world's longest-serving elected women leaders, and could eclipse Britain's Margaret Thatcher's 11 years if she wins another 3-year term.

Here at home it's good news for women in politics as reported here by WomensENews:
"Election Night nudged up the female composition of the next U.S. House of Representatives by three lawmakers, to a record 74. But the political gender gap remains wide, with women's share of the House staying at 16 percent."
and here:
"When the 111th Congress convenes in January, women will hold a record 17 Senate seats--or 17 percent of the chamber, a net gain of one over the current Congress."

Oldie but Baddie

The Global Gender Gap report for 2008 will be released on November 12th. Until then, here's last year's status for the U.S.
"The United States slipped in this year's scorecard measuring equality between women and men while Nordic countries remained at the top of the list and Muslim countries at the bottom.

No country managed to close the gender gap entirely, the Swiss-based World Economic Forum found, but women in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland came closest to achieving equality with men in education, employment, health and politics."

Read more here.

New from Catalyst

The researchers extraordinaire at Catalyst have released a new study on the heels of their summer study on women on corporate boards. The headline on the news release of its most recent reads:

Lack of Strategic Relationships Impacts Advancement of Women of Color in U.S. Securities Firms

I highlighted the mention of strategic relationships because it's an area that we emphasize in all our leadership programming. Study findings include:
"The report finds that women of color experience exclusion from key workplace relationships. They were more likely to be dissatisfied with overall managerial interaction and support, distribution of key client engagements, access to influential mentors, and access to business development opportunities. These disadvantages ultimately impact a firm’s ability to benefit from the talent that women of color bring to the work environment."
Read the release here.

The corporate boards study (about which I've reported in my newsletter) is here. Key findings:

"Findings: Our results showed that there is a clear and positive correlation between the percentage of women board directors in the past and the percentage of women corporate officers in the future. This finding holds for three different measures:

  • The percentage of women on a company’s board.
  • Company quartile when ranked by percentage of women board directors.
  • The number of women on a company’s board.

In addition, women board directors appear to have a greater effect on increasing the percentage of line positions held by women than they do on staff positions held by women. Put simply, women board directors are a predictors of women corporate officers."

Dell's Knell?

I've often thought that new economy companies (those that weren't around during the first wave of consent decrees) might be more prone to discrimination against women. There's no stats to that effect, but large suits against Wal-Mart and now Dell might be indicators.
"Alleging that Dell Inc, the world's second-largest computer maker, is discriminating against female employees and workers over forty, four former female Human Resources executives sued their ex-employer seeking $500 million in damages.

Dell had terminated the service of four senior female employees earlier this year, as part of the job cut.

Filing a class action discrimination lawsuit against the company in U.S. District Court in California, they alleged the company of systemic discrimination in blocking women across the company from breaking into the top ranks.

The plaintiffs, in their lawsuit, wanted Dell to change, what they call the company's discriminatory policies regarding pay, job placement, promotion, and termination."

These women are from HR, so they're likely to be "in the know" about the policies! Read the entire article at CIOL.

They Do Things Differently Here

In Australia, as in the U.S., the numbers of women in senior positions and on boards is in decline. So, what's a CEO to do? Well, the Chief Executive Women (CEW) organization has a novel solution. As reported by the CEO Forum Group:
"To this end CEW developed the CEO kit, a unique set of resources for CEOs interested in identifying a practical way to address this problem. In 2007 spoke to Diane Grady, chair of the CEO kit task force, and past president of CEW, who explained how and why the kit was developed, and how it can help CEOs maximize the value of talented women in their organisations."
Read the interview here.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

In HuffPost, Jacki Zehner, alum of Goldman Sachs, writes an excellent analysis of Bloomberg's feature on Goldman Sachs and its lack of featured women.
"The lesson here? Our society does not merely fail to develop, reward, retain, and lift up women leaders, we have done the opposite. We perpetuate their invisibility. As Marie Wilson has said over and over again, "You cannot be what you cannot see" and we do not see women leaders, especially on Wall Street."
Worth noting are the accomplishments of two of the alum she highlights (but who are uncovered in the Bloomberg article):
"Where on the Bloomberg list is Ann Kaplan? Ann left in 2002 and created Circle Financial Group, an innovative, peer-to-peer wealth management group that umbrellas more assets than some of the hedge funds listed. She also created the Financial Education Program at Smith College, teaches wealth management at Columbia Business School (for no charge), serves on two corporate boards and multiple non-profit boards including Columbia, Smith College, the American Red Cross and the Museum of Arts and Design. She would have reflected at least four of those categories - Fundraisers, Nonprofits, Bankers, Insurers. She even deserves her own category - has the most powerful network of women on the planet. Shouldn't Lloyd be interested in staying connected with her?

And how about Connie Duckworth? Duckworth is now President and Chairman of Arzu Inc., a non-profit she founded after being called to Afghanistan to try to help women out of poverty. What she is doing is so incredible that the Skoll Foundation honored Arzu with the prestigious 2008 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship. She is also a director of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, DNP Select Fund, and Russell Investment Group. She would also reflect multiple categories and she too could even add a new one - Social Entrepreneurs. Shouldn't Lloyd want to have regular dialogue with a woman who is part of the solution for peace in Afghanistan? The category of Sportsmen exists, but not Social Entrepreneurs."

Kudos to Ann and Connie. Two women I'd love to meet...along with Jacki herself!

This and That

Revisiting old news.

What would you think if you read this title: "Best-paid executives: the gender gap exaggerated"? Well, if you were a normal reader of English, you'd think that the gender gap between the best-paid men and best-paid women was smaller than thought.

Funny, the accompanying article (accompanying the 2007 Fortune most powerful women in business) reported this:

"Altogether, the top 25 highest-paid men made $1.3 billion in 2006, 4.35 times more than the top 25 best-paid women. And no woman cracked the ranks of top 25 highest-paid executives overall -- 25th on that list was Alan Schwartz, president and co-COO of Bear Stearns, who earned $37.3 million last year.

Indeed, Cruz, the top-earning woman, made just 22 percent of what the No. 1-ranked male executive, Nardelli, earned - a far greater discrepancy than the 75 percent managers and professionals overall experience.

"Women don't seem to be able to get on that same bandwagon," said Vicky Lovell, director of employment and work life programs at the Institute for Women's Policy Research in D.C.

"Women at (the highest) level face the same kinds of obstacles that women do throughout the workforce but there may be a more cumulative effect," Lovell explained.

That's due, in part, from the compounded impact of being offered less in compensation and not being given same opportunities over the course of a long corporate career, she said."

Makes me wonder what the editor was thinking with that headline!

Glass Cliff Writ Large

Dubbed the "glass cliff", the tendency for corporations to appoint women as CEOs when they are in grave circumstances. The first example on the national US stage was Carly Fiorina when she became CEO of HP, Anne Mulcahy the turn-around maven of Xerox is another. Now, with financial companies in decline globally, Iceland has appointed two women to bail them out. From the Financial Times:
"...Iceland has just appointed two women executives to rebuild its financial system (“Iceland calls in women bankers to clean up ‘young men’s mess’ ”, October 14). Elín Sigfúsdóttir and Birna Einarsdóttir are the new chief executives of New Landsbanki and New Glitnir respectively, the two new Icelandic banks. Is a new culture emerging within the banking system? Possibly; both women are impressive home-grown talent and I hope they are given full rein and time to exercise their experience."

Numbers in Decline: Australia

UPDATE to original post:
From Australia's Courier Mail
"According to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, the number of female executive managers has fallen to 10.7 per cent, a drop of 2 per cent compared with 2006. The number of surveyed companies with no women executives has risen to 45.5 per cent, up from 39.5 per cent in the previous survey."
From the Herald Sun in their own words:

WOMEN are virtually locked out of Australia's most powerful corporate boardrooms, new research shows.

There is just one Australian female corporate board chief for every 49 males, the latest Australian Census of Women in Leadership says.

And just 2 per cent of the CEOs of an ASX200 company are female, figures show.

The census results show women's progress is sliding backwards compared with five years ago.

From the Sydney Morning Herald in their own words:

"The 2008 census on women in leadership, to be published today, shows Australia has gone backwards in the promotion of women to executive management positions in top corporations and to boards.

The number of women coming through the pipeline in "feeder line" management positions is back to pre-2004 levels. Women who make it to senior roles are clustered in human resources and legal services rather than in operations, sales or finance, the usual routes to the top.

Where Australia once ranked second behind the United States in the number of top companies with a woman senior executive, it now ranks last in a list of comparable countries, including New Zealand, Britain, South Africa and Canada."

"Centered Leadership"

I am sick and tired of leadership defined by all kinds of qualifiers. Before a recent speech I searched Amazon for books about leadership and got 188,170 returns. Among the first 10 pages were these titles:
Facilitative Leader (Schwarz)
Authentic Leadership
Visionary Leadership
Integrated Leadership
Principle Centered Leadership (Covey)
Spiritual Leadership (Sanders)
Resonant Leadership (McKee woman co-author)
Servant Leadership (Greenleaf)
Courageous Leadership (Hybels)
Heroic Leadership (Lowney)
Quiet Leadership (Rock)
Emotionally Intelligent Leadership (Feldman)
Results-Based Leadership (Ulrich et. al)
Quantum Leadership (Studer)
No Excuse Leadership (Barber)
Enlightened Leadership (Oakley)

Now we have a research project from McKinsey calling for women to develop "centered leadership". The McKinsey study points out key messages for women, but like too many formulas for success it over-focuses on personal attributes and interpersonal skills and under-focuses on business and strategic acumen.

"...we have distilled a leadership model comprising five broad and interrelated dimensions:

--Meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose.

--Managing energy, or knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes and what you can do to manage it.

--Positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen.

--Connecting, or identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships and increasing your sense of belonging.

--Engaging, or finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring and collaborating with others.

We call this model centered leadership. As the name implies, it's about having a well of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual strength that drives personal achievement and, in turn, inspires others to follow. What's particularly exciting is that we are starting to discover ways women can actively build the skills to become more self-confident and effective leaders. Centered leadership also works for men, though we have found that the model resonates particularly well with women because we have built it on a foundation of research into their specific needs and experiences."

We need to cut to the's the truth. Leadership is leadership. Great leaders at all levels draw on a range of personal attributes, they achieve key organizational outcomes and do it by engaging the best in others. The McKinsey model (summarized here) says nothing about organizational outcomes. Like so many others, it is of limited help to women.

Canada's Top 5 Women Entrepreneurs

Profit Magazine has been tracking Canada's women entrepreneurs. Rebecca MacDonald is the top female entrepreneur with...

"...revenue approaching $2 billion in fiscal 2008, a sign of how far Canadian women risk-takers have come since 1999, according to Profit magazine.

Profit, which has been tracking women in business since 1999, said Tuesday that Rebecca MacDonald, who heads up the Energy Savings Income Fund, is the country's top female entrepreneur in 2008.

Her company, which offers consumers fixed-rate energy contracts, had revenue of $1.73 billion for its fiscal 2008, which ended March 31, 2008. That was an increase of $1.53 billion over the same period in 2007 and a huge jump compared to $23 million in sales in 1999, the year Profit began following women entrepreneurs in Canada..."

Women on Boards: GA Style

I've been concerned that among the F500 the percent of women on boards has decreased since it's 2002 high of over 15%. My hope was that smaller companies might be doing a better job. Not necessarily so...this just in from Georgia:

"That “thump” Georgia’s women executives are feeling may be their heads hitting a glass ceiling.

More than half of the state’s public companies have no women directors, according to a new study by the Board of Directors Network.

Women fill 99 of 1,323 board seats at Georgia’s 161 public corporations, down from 106 seats held last year.

'We seem to have stalled out, 'says Roxanne Douglas, president of the Network and chief counsel at McKesson Corp. The numbers, she says, 'don’t come close' to representing the clout of women in business."

What's Wrong with this Picture?

I don't know about you, but I'm not so sure that a women's conference should kick off with a panel of 3 white men. Strange...It did get better after that.
"But what could have been austere talk about falling stock prices and glass ceilings drew laughter and gasps from many of the 10,000 women in the audience when Buffett, playing to the crowd, hit Matthews with a particularly challenging question: "If you could have changed your sex into that of a woman, would you have?
A remarkably diverse lineup of speakers and performers included leading women's advocate Gloria Steinem, actress Sally Field, blues singer Bonnie Raitt and Cherie Blair, a human rights advocate and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In a discussion moderated by CNN news anchor Campbell Brown, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Indra Nooyi, chairwoman and chief executive of PepsiCo, which operates in 200 countries and employs about 185,000 people, told the arena full of women to find their own way to success.

Read more here
and here

Feminist Mistake?

In, Elisabeth Eaves discusses the notion being put forth by some that because Sarah Palin is a woman, she will by virtue of her gender be a better leader. That women are inherently better leaders is an idea that's found traction over the years.

Elisabeth's bottom line (with which I agree) "Women do not make categorically better leaders, and it's no favor to them to suggest that they do. By all means, let's elect smart, judicious leaders who happen to be female--but don't expect them to do a better job than the men by reason of estrogen alone. As New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia noted, "There is no Democrat or Republican way to pick up garbage." For the vast majority of functions of leadership, there's no male or female way to do it either."

Radical Right War on Contraception

Women'sENews commentary.
Ever since a Boston Federal Reserve study that attributed much of women's advancement in business to control over reproduction, I've been following the following actions with alarm. Behind all the public discord about abortion, there's been a secret attack on contraception coming from the radical right. Here's an excerpt from Roberta Riley's commentary (link above):

"But what many mainstream voters may not realize is that Nov. 4 also brings us to a crossroads in a war most have never heard of: the war against contraception.

Its leaders--most notably Karl Rove and President George W. Bush--use stealth tactics and, if pressed, mumble in code. That's how they please hardcore social conservatives without looking too crazy to the rest of us.

But there are two recent serious and unmistakable signs of what's going on.

In March 2007, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against female workers who simply wanted their health plan to cover contraception on the same terms it covered other preventive care as well as Viagra and Rogaine for men. (Note: Viagra and Rogaine are not preventive care.)

A second ruling, issued in late 2007 by a lower court and now on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, allows people who run pharmacies to refuse to dispense birth control based on their belief it kills the unborn. Since then "pro-life pharmacies" have been cropping up all over the country. Today, for example, in parts of Montana, women must drive 80 miles to find a pharmacy willing to sell contraception.

Bush Will Strike at State Laws

Before he leaves office, President Bush has signalled he will use his rule-making power to boost this cause and undo state laws requiring all hospitals, including Catholic institutions, to offer emergency contraception to rape survivors. The process is already underway."

Getting Women to the Top

WallStreetJournal online tells a story about the steps to get women to the top that Mike Pitcher took when he joined LeasePlan. Based on his findings that women were the primary customers and employees...

"...LeasePlan began an effort to transform its corporate culture -- rooted in the old-boy network of fleet managers -- and promote more women. Executives hired a consultant to offer women career counseling, revised the company's pay plan to stress performance over longevity, and displaced some longtime managers. Today, three of the eight top executives are women, up from one in seven two years ago...Mr. Pitcher, now the company's chief executive, calls the initiative a strategic investment rather than 'the politically correct thing to do. 'LeasePlan doesn't build anything,' he says. "Our sustainable competitive advantage is our people.'"

When I launched one of the country's first internal women's initiatives, 2 of the actions we took were to have a salary equity review conducted and to offer career management workshops for women. Given continuing wage inequities, salary equity reviews (including performance-based versus longevity or attribute-based) should be a cornerstone of every women's initiative. I'm surprised that career counseling was deemed important at LeasePlan, but kudos for them for their results. And congratulations on the profile of their top executives. Getting closer to parity!

I've often said that with 50% of the management/professional pipeline being women, in true meritocracies there is no logical reason why 50% of senior management should not be women.

New Blog for Leading Women

Welcome to my new blog for Leading Women. This is a complement to my Leading Women Unleashed blog - where I occasionally editorialize about news.

This blog is different. Its purpose is to disseminate the news I collect on a regular basis, but can't use in my monthly newsletter.

Welcome and I hope you enjoy the news!