Boards are from Mars, Consumers are from Venus! ION has published its 2009 Report on women in boardrooms and the numbers are appallingly few. The report this year offers a very positive focus on actions to increase the number of women on boards in the face of what could be a wave of turnover due to tenure and age of current directors. Here you can find a link to vote your proxy to influence board composition as well. ION also posts the top 10 on the same page. Among them: Bare Essentials*, Estee Lauder, Kraft*, Avon*, Pepsi*, Xerox*. Do you buy their products? (* means woman CEO)
What's almost as bad as the lack of women directors is the lack of publicity the report has received. What is it about self-fulfilling cycles of old-boy advancement and incompetence that the media doesn't get? This could be a really big story - check out my earlier post on board short-signtedness here. I guess what I call "the myth of meritocracy" is a tough one to bust, even in the face of contrary evidence.
I always appreciate it when white, business men over the age of 45 (and it helps if they're republicans) "get it" and advocate for women's advancement. Recently one who fit the bill, the CEO of Ernst & Young, James S. Turley used the bully-pulpit at the World Economic Forum and the release of his own company's Groundbreakers report to make the case for moving women up in organizations in order to solve and prevent future economic crises. He said,
"At a time when our global economy is facing its greatest challenge in decades, we have to capitalize on the contributions women make as leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees. Many corporations and governments have been making efforts to advance women – now is the time to accelerate those efforts. It's time to place renewed emphasis on women's advancement and women’s perspectives as a key tool in moving businesses and economies ahead."F500 Women CEOs Rock! Two of my favorite F500 women CEOs have relatively new videos on YouTube. Check out Anne Mulcahy's Silfen Leadership Series discussion of the Xerox turnaround here and Indra Nooyi on CEO Stardom and more here. It's been inspiring to be researching them and the others for my upcoming book.
Great Places to Work NAFE's 2009 Top Companies have been chosen. Find them here. If you want to learn about the 12 strategies these companies use to get women to the top, read about it here. I was pleased to note that even though it's gone out of favor, some of the companies directly tackle issues of stereotypes, assumptions and gender bias.
Where to Work has a list of global companies supporting women's advancement. You'll find it here.
Shifting the Lens 1 In a speech I gave on Women's History Month, I spoke of the importance of thinking not only of women in history, but of shifting our lens to look at the experience of women's equality (or lack thereof) in history. Here's an example of what I mean, Britain's Green Party is led by Dr. Caroline Lucas. She is proposing a woman-centric slate of legislation that would address the 17% wage gap, get more women onto boards and make it easier to take equal pay lawsuits to court. Without looking through a lens of women's experience, these proposals wouldn't be on the table. You can read about them (called "radical" by the article's author) here.
Shifting the Lens 2 JFK established the first Commission on the Status of Women, every president had a similar body until George W. Bush disbanded Bill Clinton's White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. Now President Obama has appointed Melanie Verveer as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues.
"The President's decision to nominate an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues is unprecedented and reflects the elevated importance of global women's issues to the President and his entire Administration."He has also created the White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families. This year the council (made up of cabinet members and others) will focus on:
Way to Go, Kiwis! News from my dream destination...not only is it lovely, the citizens have elected a woman as Prime Minister (but that's old news). The new news is that a Grant Thornton business research report finds that 27% of senior managers in New Zealand are women. This puts NZ ahead of the U.S., Great Britain, EU and Australia (also studied by GT).
- "Improving women’s economic security by ensuring that each of the agencies is working to directly improve the economic status of women.
- Working with each agency to ensure that the administration evaluates and develops policies that establish a balance between work and family.
- Working hand-in-hand with the Vice President, the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women and other government officials to find new ways to prevent violence against women, at home and abroad.
- Finally, the critical work of the Council will be to help build healthy families and improve women’s health care."
If you're wondering why all the pink...I'm celebrating spring!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.