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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