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!