...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 www.lorealusa.com/forwomeninscience 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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