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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