How'd I Miss This?

Back in March, the World Economic Forum (have I already mentioned that I love their research?) issued a new report on the gender gap in worldwide corporations. The Corporate Gender Gap Report is a complement to the Global Gender Gap Report and highlights one of the areas that the WEF analyzes to come up with its country rankings. Here are excerpts from the news release about the report. I'll download and read the entire document over the weekend.
"The United States (52%), Spain (48%), Canada (46%) and Finland (44%) have the highest percentage of women employees at all levels among the responding companies. India is the country with the lowest percentage of women employees (23%), followed by Japan (24%), Turkey (26%) and Austria (29%). At the industry level, the findings of the survey confirm that the services sector employs the greatest percentage of women employees. Within this sector, the financial services and insurance (60%), professional services (56%) and media and entertainment (42%) industries employ the greatest percentage of women. The sectors that display the lowest percentage of women in the 20 economies are automotive (18%), mining (18%) and agriculture (21%).

Female employees tend to be concentrated in entry or middle level positions and remain scarce in senior management or board positions in most countries and industries. A major exception to this trend is Norway, where the percentage of women among boards of directors is above 40% for the majority of respondents. This is due to a government regulation that mandates a minimum of 40% of each gender on the boards of public companies.

The average for women holding the CEO-level position was a little less than 5% among the 600 companies surveyed. Finland (13%), Norway (12%), Turkey (12%), Italy (11%) and Brazil (11%) have the highest percentage of women CEOs in this sample.

Although wage gaps between women and men are a universally recognized problem, 72% of the companies surveyed do not attempt to track salary gaps at all. However, a more positive revelation is that almost 40% of the companies surveyed claim to be setting specified targets, quotas or other affirmative policies to improve women’s participation in their structures. With the exception of Mexico and Brazil, the majority of companies in most countries claim to offer longer-term leave or career breaks for parents or care-givers."

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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Spreading Good News!

Earlier this month, Jim Kristie of Directors and Boards reported good news on women on boards.
"Last year, women represented 39% of all new board appointments! That is up from the previous record high of 25% representation in 2008. And way way up from the more typical 13% when we first started recording board appointments in 1994.

That 39% figure represents 165 women out of 424 board positions filled in 2009 as recorded in the Directors & Boards Directors Roster.

We do an authoritative tracking on a quarterly and annual basis of public company board appointments. I have reviewed the parameters of our Directors Roster reporting here. These are numbers you can take to the bank.

Something big happened in 2009 — women did indeed make a major advance in securing board appointments. We may be the lone voice in the wilderness of board diversity surveys to note that, but it is true and it offers the promise of much stronger advancement by women in the boardroom in the future."
Thanks, Jim, for spreading the news! Glad to pass it on.

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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World Cup of Women's Advancement?

I love soccer! Although I played field hockey, I cheered for my brother when he played. Needless to say, I've been watching the World Cup. (Congratulations to Spain!)

While watching, I couldn't help but imagine if the World Economic Forum were able to turn the Global Gender Gap Report into a live action competition.

Countries would compete to demonstrate how they had improved the status of women in the 4 measured categories:

  • Economic participation: salaries, participation in the economy, access to high-skilled employment.
  • Educational attainment: access to basic and higher education.
  • Political empowerment: representation in decision-making bodies.
  • Health and survival: life expectancy and gender ratio

Picture it now...

  • Teams of CEOs highlighting the advancement of women to executive and board positions.
  • Politicians racing to deliver photos of their more balanced governing bodies.
  • Parents competing to demonstrate that their daughters are in school at all levels.
  • And the medical community testifying to the extended life expectancy of women and the health of girls.

Imagine the suspense...will Norway once again rise to 1st place? Will Sri Lanka, the Phillipines and Lesotho remain in the top 10? Will the US improve on its (mortifying) number 31 position?

Wouldn't that have a greater impact on the world than soccer/futbol?

Anyone want to produce a reality TV show?

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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Factoring In the Male Factor

Last month was the 47th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act and women are still suing for wage and gender discrimination - e.g. the Novartis award in May(see prior post), and also the class action suit against WalMart that got the go-ahead last month.

So, why 40 years later are women still behind in compensation, too few in the executive suite and experiencing blatant discrimination?

Surely, there are things about us that need addressing. For example, as I discuss in No Ceiling, No Walls, women must effectively speak the language of business to counter the stereotype that we don't have business acumen. As discussed by Shaunti Feldhahn in The Male Factor, there are communication and attire issues to attend to.

But there is one factor that's substantively dropped off the radar screen - direct action by men to confront the impact of their positive and negative stereotypes about women and men. (For example, the positive stereotype that men have more business acumen is as powerful a force against women as the negative stereotype that women are more emotional. This is because people are unlikely to seek contrary evidence to their beliefs.)

In the 1970s, cutting edge corporations tackled attitudes head on until. By virtue of their ages, many of the women who have become F500 CEOs were the beneficiaries of mentoring and promotions by men whose eyes were opened to the impact of gender stereotypes - whether through corporate programs or in the general media. Soon, though the mantra "don't mess with people's attitudes, just focus on behaviors" put an end to these efforts.

A reflection of this has been the nature of diversity training. Today, many diversity training programs tackle general concepts of inclusion for all groups (addressing as one conceptual lump age, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation) instead of carefully examining group-specific stereotypes and assumptions. I believe that this is why the status of women of color has been particularly slow to change.

There is more robust research now than 40 years ago; research that could be used to address gender-based attitudes. For example, in addition to advising women how to work in male-dominated environments, it would be powerful to use the excellent research of The Male Factor to examine the beliefs that men hold. For example, most men believe that when one is emotional s/he can't also be logical. Brain research suggests that this is true for men, but not for women.

If you play a leadership role in your organization's women's initiative, consider adding work on stereotypes to the good work that you're already doing.

On another note, where have I been the past month? I went to Antigua and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala to make connections with several women's cooperatives. Keep your eyes peeled for an innovative leadership development program coming from Leading Women.

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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