All I Want for Christmas... a new front seat!

Nat Stoddard, writing for Forbes says that if past is prologue there will be a potential 25 NYSE listed companies whose current CEOs are outsted. There supremely qualified women waiting in the wings who would make excellent potential successors.

I hope that as we ring in 2010, some of them will take over the front seat and drive their companies to success in the new decade.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Beyond Fashion Forward

What women aren't being told about executive presence

Fashionistas would have women believe that what we wear, the accessories we use and how we look are keys to executive presence. Why? Because that’s how they sell products - and most of us know by now that women make or influence 85% of all consumer purchases. But in the context of executive presence, this emphasis on personal appearance leads women astray. Appearance isn’t the same as executive presence. Presentation skills aren’t the sole factor in executive presence. And, further, executive presence is different from personal presence. So what aren't women being told about executive presence.

Before revealing the secret, it helps to understand Personal Presence as distinct from Executive Presence. Many people have personal presence; TV and movie stars, politicians, social movement leaders, speakers, preachers and others. They need personal presence because they must be comfortable being in the limelight. For this reason, personal presence can be defined as the ability to comfortably draw and hold attention while delivering a message.

But, do movie stars, speakers, preachers, social movement leaders have executive presence. Most senior managers, executives and directors would say no. So, there must be a difference between personal presence and executive presence. Here it is…

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Lipstick, Diamonds & Gucci Aren't Enough!

The Missing 33%™ is the hidden secret women aren't being told about career success

Lipstick, diamonds and Gucci won't advance women in their careers. Nor will useful, but insufficient, advice on work/life balance, resilience or authenticity. Women are given abundant advice on how to look and how to be, but it only gets them so far. There's a not-so-little hidden secret that women aren't being told about career success.

After years of studying women at all levels in organizations, I've found that there is a rarely discussed element that holds women back...or propels them ahead. It is one element where they are consistently rated as under-performing their male counterparts. It is one element missing from (or under-taught in) most organizations' leadership development programs. This one element is the vital missing piece of the success equation for women. I call it The Missing 33%™. It is business savvy with all its related skills and knowledge...

Read more here.

Together We Are Stronger

The Canadian Board Diversity Council is working to increase women's representation on boards from 13% in 2007 to 20% or more by 2011. Organizations collaborating include corporate, executive search, government. In Canada looking for a search firms making board placements?
In the US, ION has a new "take action" page with ideas for how individual shareholders and mutual fund holders can encourage companies to increase the number of women on boards.

And, this is legitimate territory for diversity and women's initiatives as well. We'd like to see this issue given more weight than women's initiative efforts to bring in speakers on work/life balance and other softer subjects. Why? Because studies indicate that having more women on corporate boards drives a lowering of the wage gap and a strengthening of the pipeline for executive women. Oh, and there's also a correlation between the percentages of women on boards and bottom-line corporate performance!

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Where Have All the Women Gone?

The 2009 statistics from organizations around the country is coming in and it's not a pretty picture. In Massachusetts, The Boston Club reports that of the 100 largest companies:
  • 6.8% of executive officers are women (down from 10.9 in 2007)
  • 11.3 directors are women down from 11.5 in ’07 (38 companies have no women directors)
  • 1.2% director seats are held by women of color
In California, the worlds 8th largest economy, the Graduate School of Management at the University of California Davis reports that of the 400 largest companies women hold:
  • 9.4% of board seats (46 percent — have no women directors; another 34 percent have just one).
  • 11.6% of executive officer positions
Familiar companies with the most included top-ranked company - Bare Escentuals - with the highest share - 17.3 percent - of women in top executive positions among counties with 20 or more large firms; Jack in the Box at No. 5; Edison International in a tie for 8th place; Clorox at No. 14; Peet’s Coffee & Tea at No. 18; Health Net at No. 19; and Disney at No. 22 (For more on companies to consider doing business with look here.)

Reporting on the Chicago Women’s Network study of the 50 largest companies:
  • women directors decreased from 15% in 2008 to 14.1%
  • companies with no women executive officers grew to 17 from 16. And 34 percent of the 50 largest companies have no women officers.
  • percentage of women of color in business leadership is down. In all, 2.7 percent of all directors are women of color, down from 3.1 percent last year and 3.5 percent in 2007.
Lest you think this is a U.S. phenomenon only, here’s the scoop from our friends across the pond.
“The 2009 Female FTSE report from Cranfield School of Management shows that corporate Britain is failing women. There were only 15 female executive directors in the top 100 companies this year, down from 16 last year, and the number of boards with more than one female director has dropped from 39 to 37. The overall number of companies with women on the board has fallen, a quarter of boards are exclusively male, and there are just four female chief executives, down from five.

…of the 156 appointments to top boardrooms last year only 23, or just 14.7%, were women, and of those, only one was a British national. The report identifies the banks as the "biggest disappointment" after the percentage of female directors in the five listed in the FTSE dropped to 9% from 12%.

"It would appear that instead of becoming a time for change, the economic climate of the last year has left the top companies more male dominated," said the report's co-author, Ruth Sealy."

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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AAARGH!! Sensational Headlines Stink

The Glass Hammer posted a story this week titled, "The end of the road for women's networks?" Here's a summary of the case for the title (and AGAINST women's networks):
  • networks' underlying assumption is that there's something wrong with women and we need to stop "fixing" women
Here's the case FOR women's networks made by others quoted in the article:
  • women's networks play an important role in "fixing" the organizations
  • women's networks provide a forum for tips, support and strategies on navigating the corporate environment
  • women's networks help women find mentors and dream big
  • Gen Y workers have never faced discrimination and women's networks can help them deal with situations they face
So, is it the end of the road for women's networks?

Obviously not, but it could happen if women's networks don't focus on the right things. I don't usually use the blog to write about what Leading Women does, but indulge me for a moment because this is so important.

Leading Women's strategic planning model for women's networks makes sure that women's networks are aligned with the business and deliver programming that advances women. Our clients have gone from a marginalized "nice to do" to being seen as "partners in talent management." Our leadership program grads get promoted. When it comes to women's advancement, we "get it" and are honored to work with amazing women who also "get it".

Scroll down to the 8th comment on the article to see what else I have to say on this subject.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Global Gender Gap UPdate: US DOWN

2009 and where does the US stand on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report?
"The United States (31) fell by three places, owing to minor drops in the participation of women in the economy and improvements in the scores of previously lower-ranking countries."
Ranked above the US are Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand (my personal dream destination) - none surprising. But these might raise a few eyebrows: Sri Lanka, the Phillipines and Lesotho. You can read the news release and download the entire report here.
“The Global Gender Gap Report demonstrates that closing the gender gap in all aspects of life provides a foundation for a prosperous and competitive society. Leaders should act in accordance with this finding as they rebuild their battered economies and set them on course for sustainable long-run growth,” said co-author Laura Tyson, Professor of Business Administration and Economics, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

“Countries that do not fully capitalize on one-half of their human resources run the risk of undermining their competitive potential. We hope to highlight the economic incentive behind empowering women, in addition to promoting equality as a basic human right,” said co-author Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Forum’s Women Leaders and Gender Parity Programme. Watch the interview."

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls (Dec 2009). She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Work/Life Police?

Those who know me know I don't like the metaphor of work/life balance, but I DO like this ForbesWoman article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett about the actions of Joan Amble, an EVP, Corporate Comptroller at American Express.

Joan literally gave her staff their lives back:
  1. No email after 8:00pm
  2. Everyone leaving the office by 6:30
  3. No email on weekends
  4. Support for more efficient meetings
  5. and more
Good for her!

And, if you're interested ForbesWoman's Top 10 Unwritten Rules for Working Women take a look here. It's actually more of a list of subtle barriers that we encounter (related to the prior posting on the impact of attitudes towards women), but the article is illuminating nevertheless. For example:
"Men are bred for self-confidence. From Little League to fraternities to the golf course, men's lives emphasize competition. By the time they get to the workplace, they are seasoned competitors, with all of the self-confidence that comes from having successfully weathered both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Consider the consequences: One internal corporate study showed that women will apply for an open job only if they meet 100% of the criteria listed, while men will apply if they meet just 60%. In order to assume that same level of self-possession (and entitlement), you have to design your own path to self-confidence.

Women are rendered invisible until they demonstrate otherwise. If you want to be noticed, you've got to offer your ideas, approach a mentor, ask for the assignments, build a network, convey your aspirations and communicate your achievements. I've heard Sharon Allen, chairman of Deloitte LLP, tell this cautionary tale from her early career, when she was passed over for a promotion that she had earned. Allen asked why she had been passed over, since she had done X, Y and Z to earn it. "Oh," her boss replied, "I didn't realize that you'd done X, Y and Z ." It's one thing to lose the game because you were outperformed, but it's another thing altogether to lose because you were never in play."
Francesca Donner continues to do important work at ForbesWoman. Take a look and sign up for RSS feeds or news by email.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls (Dec 2009). She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Eyes Opening - a New Look at Women's Advancement

As one of the "shrill, women's lib" generation I often bemoan the glacially slow progress that women are making. To explain it, I speak of the Missing 33%. This has two meanings. When it comes to leadership (as I write in my new book No Ceiling, No Walls) the Missing 33% is 1/3 of the leadership success equation that women don't often hear about and as a result too often max out below the glass ceiling.

But there's another Missing 33% when it comes to women's advancement. Advancement rests on a foundation of:
  1. Women having what it takes.
  2. Organizations removing institutional barriers - policies, practices, etc. (e.g. one oil company I know had to stop having meetings at country clubs that excluded women and minorities)
  3. Examination of stereotypes held by decision-makers
For the past 30 years, companies have done a pretty good job at the first two...and a dismally worsening job at the last.

During the 70s, men's stereotypes about women (and ours about ourselves) were openly examined, but in subsequent decades we've pretended that all the work was done. Meanwhile conservative talk radio (and others) grabbed the ears of our young men and women and filled them with the worst of mysoginistic stereotypes (I used to eavesdrop on my son's radio choices driving him to school). So no only has it been not okay to talk about stereotypes, they've been raising their ugly heads unchallenged.

Today, I read an op-ed piece from the New York Times. In it, Joanne Lipman owns up to her generation's contribution to this problem:

"And then it struck me: Part of the reason we’ve lost our way, part of the reason my generation became complacent, is that many of us have been defining progress for women too narrowly. We’ve focused primarily on numbers at the expense of attitudes.

I’ve spent my adult life in business journalism, where we calculate success using hard facts and figures. Researchers have evaluated women’s progress the same way. But in today’s noisy world, that approach isn’t enough. We’ve got to include popular perceptions in the equation as well. Progress in one area without the other is no progress at all."

As important as are the numbers, the attitudes need tending. Let's all open our eyes and confront the negative stereotypes we hold about ourselves and that men hold about us... and let's leverage the positive.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls (Dec 2009). She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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A Smorgasbord of News

Finishing my new book No Ceiling, No Walls has kept me too busy to blog (hey, that's an interesting title for something), so there's a ton of news to report.

Having a woman heading PR for Cadillac has turned women into social media promoters of the car. Looks like Cadillac has figured out that women are an untapped market. Read more here.

One of the aspects of leadership is using your personal greatness...and one of the components of personal greatness is the alignment of what you say your values are and how you behave. I love what Sallie Krawchek told a conference room of women MBAs about this. When faced with a difficult situation she asks herself:
"not what I think I should do, but what the person I want to be should do - what she would do."
Sallie is the former chair and chief executive of Smith Barney and later chief financial officer at Citi and chief executive of Citi's global wealth management.

Recently a woman told me she thought she'd like to move into academia - she thought it was a more benevolent culture for women. Heidi Brown of Forbes puts that idea to rest in this article about women college presidents. 23% of college presidents are women (happily up from 10% in 1986). 64% of men have tenure - another significant disparity. This reminds me of research done on women in academic medicine that found that women really do have to work twice as hard as men to advance on the academic ladder - more publications, more funding brought in, more years on each step.

We all know that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin both faced sexism during last year's presidential campaign. In Massachusetts, the subtlety of sexism is playing out in the battle for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. As reported by Joan Vennochi in
Therese Murray... looks for sexism under every political rock and finds it in every criticism of a female candidate.

“You have all these little code words; now it’s cautious,’’ said Murray, complaining about a word used by Representative Michael Capuano, one of Coakley’s challengers.

Sure, there are code words used to undercut women in business and politics, and often they are contradictory. A woman is too soft or too tough, too provocative or too frumpy, too young or too old, too single or too married.

How can Coakley be too “cautious’’ if she is also too “ambitious,’’ as suggested by Stephen E. Smith, one of Ted Kennedy’s nephews?

“It made me want to throw my BlackBerry,’’ said Ellen R. Malcolm, president and founder of EMILY’s List.

As Malcolm points out, “There are four candidates, and every single one is ambitious. . . . It is a code word in the sense that it is considered a bad thing for a woman.’’

Forbes' look at CEO compensation differences between women and men reminds us that although some of the women CEOs make significant income, the wage gap exists even at the top of companies. For example Lynn Elsenhans...
"was paid $2.2 million last year by $37 billion refiner Sunoco ( SUN - news - people ). Bruce Smith, head of refining concern Tesoro ( TSO - news - people ), which had sales of $20 billion in 2008, took home $18.6 million."
On the other hand, Carol Meyrowitz, CEO of TJX (think Marshalls and TJMaxx) makes nearly as much as Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE..

Fawn Germer wrote an excellent piece on Huff Post about the wallop women MBAs have taken during the great recession - they've been fired at more than 3 times the rate of male MBAs.
"Corporate leaders, who are mostly male, are turning back toward the tried-and-true. It’s not that they are saying, “Let’s freeze out the women and the blacks and the gays so us white boys can handle things.” They’re saying, “Who can help with this?” And they look around and see who’s around them, and well, it’s mostly white men.

“They are thinking, ‘Who do I work with? Who do I golf with? Who do I have a relationship with?’ While women have done a good job of cracking into it, they haven’t fully done it yet,” said McGurl, now president of Sutton Place HR Consulting Group. “I don’t think anyone is out there thinking, ‘I’m going to whack all these women."

But women are getting whacked."

25 Most Influential Women in Banking courtesy of the WSJ.

If you've been reading the Leading Women blog for a while you know that having women at the top makes a significant positive impact on the advancement of women in the company. Now, having a First Lady willing to speak out through the gender lens might benefit women in the country. As reported in MS Magazine.
" Obama referenced studies showing that women are more likely than men to hold part-time or small business jobs that do not provide health insurance and that women who do have health insurance are often charged more than men. "A recent study showed that 25-year-old women are charged up to 45 percent more for insurance than 25-year-old men for the exact same coverage. And as the age goes up, you get to 40, that disparity increases to 48 percent," Obama stated, according to the White House transcript. She noted that this disparity is especially troublesome considering that women still earn less than men on average."
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls (Dec 2009). She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Newsweek's Shame and FORTUNE's Fame

On the one hand, Newsweek paints powerful, ambitious and successful women as "bitches". It has chosen 11 of the most powerful women who are also noted for not being so very nice. As a matter of fact, they pitch "11 Powerful Women Who Make Men--and Other Women--Squirm."

Have they ever described powerful men as those who make women and other men squirm? Not likely!

On the other hand Newsweek tells us that we are our own glass ceiling and advises that if we want to get ahead we have to stop being the "good girl". This is actually a very good article and I recommend that you read it. Love this point made by the author, Jessica Bennett:
"Part of (women's inability to self-promote) comes from a lifetime of mixed messages about what it means to be strong. We've grown up watching the Hillary Clintons of the world vilified for being pushy, while our soft-spoken colleagues struggle to rise up the corporate ladder. Society, pop culture and the media all encourage us to be tough but sexy in the process. In a way, we're hybrids of the 1950s woman, who was forced to conform, the 1970s woman who refused to, with a bit of 21st-century porn culture thrown in. We live with outdated expectations about what's acceptable, while pressuring ourselves to achieve it all."
Don't they see how they're playing into the nation's ambivalence about women? Shame on that 11 powerful women feature.

On the other hand, I eagerly wait for FORTUNE's 50 Most Powerful Women every year. Among this year's list are the F500 women CEOs (all of whom act as virtual mentors in my new book).

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls (Dec 2009). She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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So Many Stories, So Little Time

Here's a collection of summer stories of interest all wrapped up with a bow.
  • Does anyone else see the irony that Manpower is named by PINK Magazine as one of the top companies for women? BTW, PINK won't be printed as an in-hand magazine any more. Sad loss.
  • How about this: On Women's Equality Day, a story from the Gainesville Sun reported that of the top 150 public companies in Florida 63 had neither a woman executive nor a woman on its board.
In case you missed it. NAFE's Top 50 Companies for Women. Leading Women is proud to be partnering with several of these companies. Read about them here. This page highlights actions that women's initiatives/networks/affinity groups can be taking to help advance women.

Debunking Jack Welch
I knew that his comments to SHRM were inflammatory and inaccurate because of the research I did about the F500 women CEOs, but Janet Bagnall's article in the Montreal Gazette hit the nail on the head going even beyond the F500.

"There's no such thing as work/life balance," Welch is reported as telling the U.S. Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference last month. He is said to have added, "We'd love to have more women moving up faster. But they've got to make the tough choices and know the consequences of each one."

Subscribers to the Wall Street Journal can get the full benefit of Welch's antiquated analysis.

Welch's thesis is ridiculous, which is something he could have figured out on his own. He didn't have look farther afield than Forbes magazine's 2008 list of 100 Most Powerful Women to find out how wrong he is. The No. 1 place is held by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is married (although she has no children.)

Carrying on, however, the women in the next five places are the heads of hugely important institutions and companies:

Sheila C. Bair, chairperson of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, is married with two children. She describes balancing work and family as her "biggest challenge."

No. 3 on the list is Indra K. Nooyi, president, chief financial officer and director of PepsiCo. She is married and has two children.

Next up is Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint Inc., the largest health insurer in the U.S. She is married. Her three children are aged 18, 15 and 12.

No. 5 is Cynthia Carroll, chief executive officer of Anglo American PLC, one of the largest mining companies in the world. She and her husband have four children.

In sixth spot is Irene B. Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods, the second largest food and beverage company in the world after Nestlé SA, as well as its board chairperson. She and her husband have two daughters. (Rosenfeld was the highest paid among this group of female CEOs, with a total compensation in 2008 of $16.9 million. Welch earned $94 million a year by the time he retired in 2001.)

It's not hard to understand why Welch would be reluctant to admit he's from another era. But why does the next generation pay any attention to a 73-year-old, three-times-married former CEO? Work/life balance? He seems to have failed spectacularly at it, unashamedly admitting that he spent his weekends at the office talking sports with his male subordinates while his wife raised their children."

Women CFOs
Kate O'Sullivan wrote extensively about women in finance for CFO Magazine in July. The number of women CFOs at F500 companies is stagnating at 9% over the past 3 years. Why? Well, men don't think it's the glass ceiling any more:
"One quarter of women responding to the survey either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that a glass ceiling for women exists in their companies' finance departments. That's a significant decline from the 40% who held that view when CFO last asked the question, in 2006 (the percentage of men who believe there is a glass ceiling declined as well, from 10% to 4%). But many finance executives said that women continue to bump up against something, if not many things, in their efforts to rise to the top."
Bump up against something - if not a glass ceiling, then what?

One way to increase these numbers is to increase the women on corporate boards.
"Pamela Craig, CFO of global business-services firm Accenture, says more executives need to make that kind of commitment to significantly increase the number of women at the top of the profession. "Lots of men are always going to be qualified. If you want to move the needle, you need people who are committed to making a change," she says. "'Boards need to believe that diversity is important. The fact that we had three women on our board helped me [get the CFO job]. I don't think it was big, but I think it was there.'"
The Role of Stereotypes
Here in the US articles about the impact of stereotypes don't get a lot of play (notice the hesitance about blaming stereotypes for the low number of women CFOs in the above article) So, it isn't exactly a surprise that I didn't see any American papers pull this together as the Canadians did in an article by Donna Nebenzahl for At the top, nearly 3 times more women than men are losing jobs in this economy:
"Unexamined stereotyping can seriously undermine a female leader. Could it be responsible for the number of high-potential women with lost jobs and fewer promotions?"
Also noted in a Canadian MetroNews column. Not to mention the fewer women who are seen as high-potential in the first place. See earlier post here.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls (Dec 2009). She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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The Health of the Pipeline

Intending to study processes for identifying and developing high potential employees, DDI stumbled upon a disturbing finding - men and women are increasingly viewed differently as they move up the ladder. (Why am I not surprised?)

The report, titled Holding Women Back - Troubling Discoveries and Best Practices for Helping Female Leaders Succeed, included these findings:
  • 50% of the participating companies identify high potential employees who receive accelerated development opportunities.
  • At first-level management, there are 28% more men than women identified as high-potential.
  • At the executive level, the gap increases to 50%.
  • At the executive level 41% of men have multinational experience, only 25% of women.
  • In companies where women overall are tokens or in the minority, they saw drastic fall-off in the % of women identified as high potential from first-level to executive management.
  • In industries with gender balance overall, women at the first level represent half of managers, but around 1/3 at the executive level.
  • In majority-women industries where women represent 80% of first level managers, they only hold 35% of executive positions.
  • In all industries, men are more likely to be viewed as high-potential.
As long as women believe conventional wisdom about leadership with its over-focus on interpersonal skills and personal excellence, we will never be able to reverse these trends.

To be seen as high-potential women have to develop...and, strategic and financial acumen. These are essential ingredients for leadership success in business and they are topics that I address head-on in my new book, No Ceiling, No Walls.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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...and the Filly Did It!

Okay, I admit, I'm giddy times 3.
  1. Rachel Alexandra beat the boys in the Preakness,
  2. Ursula Burns is taking over from Anne Mulcahy at Xerox (the first woman CEO-to-woman CEO handoff in Fortune 500 history and the first African-American woman to head a F500 company) and
  3. President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
So, I guess the headline should read, "and the fillies are gettin' it done!"

About nominee Sonia Sotomayor:
Should having another woman on the Supreme Court matter? No, it would be nice to think that justice is gender neutral.

Will having another woman on the Supreme Court matter? Absolutely, because justice in America has not been gender neutral just as executive decisions have not been gender neutral. Here's just one example, if companies were run in a gender neutral way, there would be no wage gap. Instead what we see is that the wage gap decrease to 91¢ in companies where there are a critical mass of women at the top.

So, I am giddy. I know the battle will be fierce, but I am rooting for Judge Sotomayor to be confirmed...and to live to see gender parity on the Court in my lifetime.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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New Approach... DUH!

Marsh and McClennan is partnering with Heidrick & Struggles to meet at least 10% of its recruiting needs through women and minority-owned businesses. Here's the what and why from the MMC news release:

"MMC is committed to providing our global client base with the innovative solutions and unique perspectives of a diverse workforce, while fostering an inclusive environment that encourages the highest level of confidence among both clients and employees, " said Orlando Ashford, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at MMC. "As we sought to expand the reach and impact of this philosophy, MMC searched for a firm to partner with us - not only to locate and develop diverse talent, but also to open doors in the industry for women- and minority-owned firms. Heidrick & Struggles responded with great excitement, and this agreement - which we hope will be emulated by companies beyond our industry - was born."

Under the agreement, which is embedded in MMC's overall relationship with Heidrick & Struggles, Heidrick will give at least 10% of its work for MMC to women- and minority-owned executive search firms, and will also help these firms identify other opportunities where their services may be of assistance to the company. Heidrick's management of this process will help MMC fulfill a commitment to recruit diverse candidates and cultivate diversity among its vendors."

Wonder why it has taken so long for a company to announce a move like this. It seems like a no-brainer that a company's recruitment function should be part of its supplier diversity strategy.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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When the WSJ launched JournalWomen, I cyber-met its editor, Francesca Donner. We corresponded, I enjoyed and supported the place she created to celebrate women in business.

On Wednesday, I received an email from Twitter saying that I was being followed by @ForbesWoman. Lo and behold I discovered that behind @ForbesWoman is none other than Francesca. No wonder I touted the launch in my April 21 post.

Today ForbesWoman is reporting on Thursday's announcement of Anne Mulcahy's step-down from the CEO position at Xerox and Ursula Burns ascendancy into the position. The transition, planned for July 1, is the first woman-to-woman hand-off of a Fortune 500 CEO position and Ursula is the first African-American woman CEO. Congratulations Ursula and thank you Anne for the role model you've been. (Check out Anne's answer about "10 Minutes that Matter" in her life here.)

When you visit ForbesWoman you'll find that it features articles in a number of categories including:
  • Leadership
  • Power Women
  • Net Worth
  • Family
Offering "tools to succeed for professional and executive women" Francesca is creating one of the few places on the internet where business women are taken seriously - and are given resources for leading in what I call a "whole life" context. I hope you'll visit, sign up for updates and visit often: ForbesWoman

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Women on Boards: Progress??

No, it's not I who am ambivalent...its the data (as reported by WSJ).

WSJ headline yesterday (alerted through Twitter) was "Study: More Women Named to Boards". Being a huge advocate of more women on boards, I quickly read the report which said,

"Are more women moving into corporate boardrooms?

Good News: "At least one study says yes. In the first three months of the year, 38% of new directors – 38 of 101 appointments – were women, according to data compiled by quarterly journal Directors & Boards. That's the highest number and percentage since the publication began counting in 1994.

Women's share of board appointments has been climbing for the past two years and spiked in the most recent quarter, says James Kristie, editor of Directors & Boards. For all of 2007 and 2008, it averaged about 25%; in 2006 it was 18.5%..."

Good news challenged: "Others who follow new-director appointments aren't seeing a surge. Julie Daum, who heads the North American board services practice at executive search firm Spencer Stuart, says about 20% of its director placements in the past quarter were women, up only slightly from 17% to 18% in 2008."

More good news at the end of the article, which, by the way was written by Erin White was, also from Julie Daum:
"Boards are much more thoughtful about how they recruit – there's much more of a process in place where they define what they're looking for," she says. "Which is different from saying, 'We have an opening. Does anybody know who might be good?'"
Glad to see that Kerrii Anderson, who was interim CEO at Wendy's joined the board of Chiquita Brands International. She's one of the CEOs I write about in my new book.

I occasionally correspond with Directors and Boards Editor and Associate Publisher Jim Kristie and he gave me a look at the news release from which Erin's article was written. Information not covered includes this that's worth a look:
“'Thirty-eight percent of new board appointees is an awesome number,” Kristie says. “I have been a champion of board diversity since becoming editor in 1981, and I hope this trend stays as strong as we have seen it in the first quarter.'” He adds that the data so far for April shows a near-even split of male/female board appointments.

From 1994 until 2002, the percentage of women named to boards typically averaged in the low to mid-teens. For that first year, 1994, the total was 13 percent. In 1996 it dipped to 9 percent.

• A consistent uptick to the high teens began in 2002. Kristie speculates that this was an early reaction to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) governance-tightening regulations in July of that year. SOX, he says, created new opportunities for women by stimulating a push for independent directors, as newly defined by the stock exchanges and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and for financial experts on boards.

• From 2003-2006 “the data veered widely,” Kristie says, with some quarters backsliding to the teens while other quarters hit 20-25 percent of board appointments being women.

• 2007 marked “the first solid breakthrough trend,” he says, with every quarter that year above 20 percent for women directors. For the whole year, the average was 25 percent, same as with 2008."

Thanks, Jim, for the good work you're doing to keep this issue on the radar screen. It's important because studies continue to show a correlation between improved performance and higher percentages of women on boards.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Can You Name Famous Women Scientists?

Is it just me or do others think that the overall national climate is shining a brighter light on women's issues and opportunities? Take a look at what was found by an April, 2009 study commissioned by L'Oreal:
"A new national survey commissioned by L'Oreal USA confirms an alarming issue plaguing our nation's scientific community - the scarcity of female scientists and lack of awareness of their contributions. According to the survey Women, Science and Success: The New Face of Innovation, 65 percent of American adults cannot name a single famous female scientist, and 74 percent of Americans believe that women are underrepresented in science-related fields."
If I hadn't spoken to a biotech company during Women's History Month, I couldn't name a famous female scientist. How about you?

So why should we care?
"The survey revealed that Americans see women's participation as key to the country's advancements in these areas. Nearly all Americans (97 percent) believe women are capable of making significant contributions to scientific research, development and discovery. More than eight out of 10 (87 percent) survey respondents say more women are needed in science-related fields to ensure scientific and technological progress. Likewise, they see a danger in not investing more resources to encourage more women to get involved in science: 59 percent believe that an underrepresentation of women in science-related fields could hinder U.S. advancements in science and economic growth."
It seems pretty self-evident that if half of the brains in the country are under-represented in the sciences, we will lag behind. You can find the entire article here.

For more information on L'Oreal's Fellowships for Women in Science, visit or the L'Oreal for Women in Science Facebook page.

* Pictured above Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar.

F500 Women CEOs Earnings News

It was a profit, albeit a small one (2%), that Patricia Woertz, CEO reported for Archer Daniels Midland's third quarter. Reported by Tess Stynes @ the WSJ

Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft (pictured above) reported a 10% jump in profit. Details reported by Kerry E. Grace of the WSJ:

"...Organic revenue, which excludes divestitures, acquisitions and the impact of foreign-currency fluctuations, rose 2.3% on higher prices. The company said it had better-than-expected volume and mix but didn't provide a total figure.

Gross margin rose to 34.7% from 32.9%.

North American profit was up 16% as organic revenue increased 1.3%, led by sales growth in the company's convenience meals. In Europe, organic sales fell 3.3% on unfavorable volume and mix. In developing markets, organic sales rose 12% on solid gains in each region. Latin America was helped by higher prices and strength in powdered beverages, while Asia Pacific grew on gains in several key brands..."

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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PS Thanks to @WSJ for the headline tweets.

Women CFO's a Boon?

I frequently joke that when it comes to the "personal excellence" aspect of leadership that what women need is to develop leadership presence and what men need to develop is ethics. Is this why Wall Street seems to prefer moves made by companies with women CFOs?

In an unpublished study from Boston College reports:
...the stock market reacts more favorably to both acquisition announcements and secondary equity offerings made by companies whose finance function is run by women...

Specifically, the stock-price reaction to acquisitions was approximately 2 percent better when women were running the finance department.

The authors also say women seemed to have an edge when it came to making secondary equity offerings. There, too, the market reaction was about 2 percent better for companies where a woman was in charge of finance...

when a large company (all of those in the studied samples had book assets greater than $500 million) gets a 2 percent better equity return on an acquisition or stock issuance, "we're talking about a substantial amount of dollars," Kisgen pointed out. "The evidence suggests that female CFOs on average do make decisions which are better for overall shareholder value,"...

On another note, how hard is it to get to the CFO seat? From the same article:

"Meanwhile, even if women are better at maximizing shareholder value, they have some challenges to overcome in getting to the CFO seat. In a June 2006 survey of 363 executives by CFO magazine, 83 percent of men said there was no glass ceiling for women in corporate finance — but only 44 percent of women agreed.

Also, 51 percent of men said that no positions would be harder for a woman to obtain, an assertion with which only 37 percent of women agreed. About 14 percent of survey respondents said CFO is the hardest corporate job for women to reach."

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Ode to Google Alerts

I love Google Alerts. They keep me up to date on what's happening with women around the country and around the globe. And sometimes what's happening is pretty funny. Just today, the alerts offered this contradictory content.

Women are doing great! (As reported here in Training & Development magazine.)

"In 1968 the standing of women in the labor force was deteriorating to the point that President Lyndon B. Johnson described the underutilization of women’s skills as “the most tragic and the most senseless waste of this century, a waste we can no longer afford.”

Forty years later, the outlook is quite the opposite. More than 1 billion women constitute nearly half of the global workforce today, and many are confident executives who embrace challenges to advance.

Six out of 10 female executives believe that their careers are successful or very successful, and 81 percent of these women take on additional responsibilities and complexity to advance their careers, according to a recent Accenture study..."

So, I went looking for more information and found that the subheading of the Accenture study was "half of women feel insufficiently challenged in spite of confidence in skills". Strange that T&D put a positive spin on the report. BUT to me the most important finding is this: Men overall were more likely than women to say they have asked for pay raises (56 percent vs. 48 percent) and promotions (42 percent vs. 37 percent).

Women are doing poorly!
(As reported here by the Epoch Times.)
"With products sold in almost every country in the world, Coca-Cola management strongly believes in the diversity of its workforce. The company’s management personnel is drawn from many countries including Australia, Colombia, France, Ireland, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“This extraordinary diversity of ideas and cultures and beliefs is undeniably one of the most important competitive advantages we have as a business system … I work with senior women executives throughout our company to identify strategies to attract and develop more women into leadership positions,” said in his speech.

Kent was appalled as women managers are almost nonexistent in the bottling and distribution companies Coca-Cola engages.

Coca-Cola is now seeking to address a lack of gender diversity, after Kent learned that there are only two female senior executives and just two women in charge of bottling companies around the world, none of them in the United States..."
And another alert suggested that if you want advice on how to remedy bad news (like that about Coke's bottling and distribution companies) you should ask a man (like the one who wrote 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot). There's something about this that just rubs me the wrong way.

UPDATE: New spin on prior post.
Q. Why do women MBAs earn less than their male counterparts?
A. Motherhood - although, the article title says its because "women work less" GRRRR. From NY Times Weekend.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Ease Your Aching Back

Wow, finally a company that "gets" the physiological differences between men and women. I have been painfully aware of these differences as a rider - there really should be separate designs for saddles! but I digress.

I just learned that Keilhauer has a chair called the Sguig that is designed to ease our aching backs because its ergonomic design is based on the different sitting styles and pelvic structures of men and women...and all thanks to a woman. Here's the story as told in BusinessWeek,
"Jackie Maze was bouncing on an exercise ball in a Pilates studio in Toronto in 1998 when, as she says, "something just clicked." Maze is a vice-president of marketing at Keilhauer, a Toronto-based furniture company, and that aha! moment led, eight years later, to the "Sguig," a seat based on the same principle as the exercise ball...Maze took her observations from the fitness studio to the cubicle, where it's rather important to stay alert and comfortable. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

To test her idea, Keilhauer paired up with EOOS, an Austrian design firm, and researchers at the Technical University of Vienna, who conducted ergonomic research and wired up a series of ball-like prototypes and other more standard front- and back-tilting chairs. "We monitored and graphed people's movements over the course of the day," said Mike Keilhauer. "Those that could move around, did, and their bodies felt less beat up at the end of a day of active sitting."

The early movement studies uncovered something unexpected: Men and women sit differently...Women perched, sitting on the edge of their seats, arching their backs, while men tended to slouch, relying more on the backrest. Differences in pelvic rotation between men and women contributed to these different postures. The consequence: Women felt more upper back pain, and men experienced lower back pain."
Funny, just this morning I asked a massage therapist if he would do a targeted session on my upper back...and as I write this post, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat. Maybe waiting for the Sguig is why I haven't yet bought a new chair for my office.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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ForbesWoman Online Mag

Today I had a few minutes to revisit JournalWomen and was disappointed to see that it is a mere shadow of its former self.

That's why I was pleased to have an alternative. Forbes has rebranded an earlier venture to create its new ForbesWoman site. It has a pretty good blend of the usual content that sells advertising space (e.g. dress for success) and content that helps women succeed. (UPDATE: You can subscribe to alerts from Forbes Woman at the bottom of this page.)

For example, a recent article on Indra Nooyi. I am a real fan of Indra's and have written quite a bit about her in my upcoming book. Her generous spirit is reflected in the article.

Or this slide show on Sharpening Your Leadership Skills.

Thank you, Forbes Woman. May you get the blend right, attract a large following and help women...

...Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Captainship versus Leadership?

As I explain in my forthcoming book, there are WAY too many people who casually (and mistakenly) use the word leader as a synonym for executive and/or CEO. This causes many problems, e.g. if you use the words interchangeably, you lump together CEOs who create viable, healthy companies with those who've run their companies into bankruptcy. This could be easily avoided by using a prescriptive definition of leadership like mine (Leadership is using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others.) to determine which CEOs or executives are worthy of being called a leader.

If you want to blithely continue to call any Tom, Dick or CEO a leader regardless of the outcomes they product or the tactics they use to produce them, may I suggest the term "captainship" to describe the leadership ideal. Wonder why I make this suggestion? Think Captain Chesley Sullenberger of US Airways flight 1549 and Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama.

What is it about these captains that make their actions worthy lessons in leadership? The saga of the Maersk Alabama and Captain Richard Phillips lead me to compare his actions with those of CEOs at the helms of American businesses. By offering himself as a hostage, Phillips put his:
  • Staff ahead of himself - think crew members. (How many CEOs have done that since the 2007 start of this economic crisis?)
  • Customers ahead of himself - think of the food aid for Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda that the Maersk Alabam was carrying. (How many CEOs have done that since the 2007 start of this economic crisis?)
  • Shareholders ahead of himself - think the owners of the Maersk. (How many CEOs have done that since the 2007 start of this economic crisis?)
I've already written about important leadership lessons from Captain Sullenberger and crew's landing of flight 1549. They include:
  • Don't look for the hero, look for the heroic in everyone...
  • When the economic engine fails, there's still energy for a safe landing...
  • and more here.
I'm not really in favor of using captainship in lieu of leadership...I'd prefer that people think carefully about who they describe as leaders and use the words executive or CEO instead of leader to describe people at the top of organizations. Unless, that is, the CEO or executives are:
  • acting ethically out of personal greatness to
  • produce real and sustainable outcomes,
  • by engaging the greatness in others.
Then they are worthy of being called leaders!

Lead On!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
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Views from Abroad (no, that's not a broad!)

In Jamaica the U.N. is demonstrating its commitment to advancing women onto boards. 100 women will be trained because a study...
"...found that in the last decade, women's participation on boards in Jamaica only moved marginally by two per cent in the private sector and four per cent in the public sector. It also found that while men believe overwhelmingly that women are prepared for senior decision making positions on boards and commissions, women themselves do not share this view as enthusiastically."
And with data about women and the quality of board governance that I hadn't seen before, Sandra Glasgow, executive director of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, opened the program noting that...
"...a major study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada in 2002 on women and corporate boards, suggested a strong link between female numbers on boards and good governance credential. In this, researchers found that more female directors pay attention to audit and risk oversight and control; that women more than men tend to consider the needs of more categories of stakeholders and that 72 per cent of boards with two or more women conduct formal board performance evaluations, while only 40 per cent of all-male boards do."
As a strong advocate for getting more women on boards, I know that correlation isn't the same as causation and address explanations for this kind of finding. Nevertheless, it's important to broadcast this data widely. Read more about the Jamaican program here.

I continue to find value in Jim Collins Good to Great research, especially the qualities of "personal humility and intense professional will" that he noted as attributes of the executives he and his team of researchers studied. Adele Horin, writing an op ed for the Brisbane Times, has an interesting take on luck, humility and success in this age of economic turmoil.
"It's been unfashionable in the greedy years to give luck the credit it deserves in shaping destiny. For women in particular luck is a tricky issue. Research shows men attribute their success to talent and hard work and most women attribute their success to luck. Such self-effacement has not reflected well on women...

In the greedy years, the male explanation for success became the norm. Humility went out the window. Hard men like Mark Latham made it sound that anyone could succeed if they were "aspirational". Idealogues like John Howard put the onus on individual effort, and free choice. Those with the drive, the talent, and the plan could move deliberately and purposefully up the ladder. The word "loser" came into vogue to describe the people who lacked the moral fibre, the gumption and the strategy to succeed.

But now the best-laid plans are in tatters. If it is not plans for a well-remunerated retirement, it is plans for promotion that are in shreds, or for a career in finance for the thousands of commerce graduates coming through, or for the job-with-prospects in print media for the hundreds of journalism students. All such plans have been ripped apart by a tempest that was unforeseen."

In India, women entrepreneurs and CEOs have joined hands to form the first-of-its-kind social networking platform to encourage more women in becoming entrepreneurs.
"The organisation will be holding workshops, knowledge and training sessions across 15 cities in the next three months to encourage more women to start businesses of their own. The best of the lot, handpicked by a panel of leading women entrepreneurs, will be presented with the Stree Shakti Awards during June this year."
Stree Shakti, the women's wing of the world's largest non-profit organisation of entrepreneurs (TiE), hopes to have Melinda Gates and Indra Nooyi attend the celebration...great choices both!

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Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.