Does it make a difference if a woman is in charge? A new study of 112 women CEOs in 39 countries finds that it does. Top companies led by women have more women directors in board rooms and in executive officer positions, according to a report by Corporate Women Directors International, a Washington-based research group focusing on women directors globally.
Companies with women CEOs have 22.3% women on their boards compared to 9.8% average representation of women on the boards of blue chip companies in the countries included in the study. This pattern holds in all regions no matter which country or what size company.
Similarly, women-led companies have a higher percentage of women in senior management at 24.3% than the average representation of women in executive roles in peer companies (12.2%). Again, while rates of increase may differ, this same pattern holds for the majority of companies with women at the helm in all regions of the world.
“Clearly, having a woman at the top of the corporate pyramid makes a difference for other women,” states CWDI Chair Irene Natividad. “The study shows women CEOs tapping the talents of other women for senior roles that are normally very difficult to access.”
CWDI’s list of Top Ten Women-Led Companies with the best record in appointing female directors includes a Serbian company, Soja Protein (food products company listed in the Belgrade Stock Exchange) in first place along withCanada’s Vancouver City Savings Credit Union – each with female majority boards (6 out of 9 or 66.7%).
U.S. companies (Avon, Xerox, Wellpoint, Pepsico, Kraft Foods and Sara Lee) with women CEOs dominate the Top Ten list, along with four Canadian and three Philippine companies . All of these companies have over 30% of board seats held by women.
Serbia’s Soja Protein again leads the Top Ten Companies with female CEOs that outperform others in appointing women to executive officer posts with 100% of their senior management being women. Six Canadian women-led companies in the FTSE 100 are among the ten best led by the State Farm Group, which has a female majority executive team (3 out of 4 or 75%). Four Philippine companies form the second largest group among the Top Ten, with women executive officers comprising 40-60%.
How do women CEOs’ record compare with that of their predecessors? A look at U.S., Canadian, Australian and British companies shows a faster rate of women’s appointment to boards – 7.6% over the past five years – than the average increase of 2.1% in female directors by peer companies in all regions.
A similar faster rate of women’s appointments to C-suite position – 7.6% -- was shown when comparing the current composition of senior management in women-led companies with that of their predecessor.
“Given the value that women CEOs bring to accelerating access to boards and executive positions, it is a shame that there are so few of them in every corner of the world,” adds Natividad. There are, for example, only 12 U.S. women CEOs in the Fortune 500, 23 in Canada’s Financial Post 500, none in Japan and Korea’s largest companies , and none in the blue chip companies of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Norway or Greece.
In the 1970s, Irene Dorner was sure that with the surge of women joining her in the working world, the financial industry would start looking pretty equal before long. It didn't seem so far fetched to Dorner, now the CEO of HSBC USA, to expect that by the time she was 40, "the ratio would be 50/50 in all the places that mattered."
It hasn’t happened. While we are no longer in the openly discriminatory era of "Mad Men," when only white males had a serious chance at advancement, the world of banking and finance, like all the well-paying professions, still has what social scientists call a "leaky pipeline." Women enter the lower rungs at roughly the same numbers as (or even in higher numbers than) men, but their ranks thin out the higher you go in terms of pay or position, until women are vastly outnumbered at the top.
NCRW is proud to co-sponsor "Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later"
Saturday, October 15, 2011 at Hunter College in New York City
The conference will bring together three generations to witness, respond and analyze present day realities in law, politics, the confluence of race, class and gender, the persistent questioning of women’s credibility, issues of black masculinity and current cases of sexual harassment. The conference will also include highlights from First Run Feature’s film about Anita Hill’s testimony, ‘Sex and Justice.’
The article includes interviews with Julie Castro Abrams, the CEO of Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, a San Francisco nonprofit that provides high-potential, low-income women with the training, support and funding to start their own businesses, and Weili Dai, the co-founder and former chief operating officer of Marvell Technology Group, and the only female founder of a global semiconductor company. It also profiles several of the women who, along with other female inventors, scientists and business leaders, were honored at the 2011 APEC Reception Honoring Women Innovators.
“Women have done great things in the Bay Area — it’s an incubator of innovations, a place where people think of new ways to address challenging problems,” said Janet Lamkin, president of Bank of America California and chair of the Bay Area Council, which spearheaded the formation of the Women and the Economy Summit Steering Committee at this week’s APEC conference. Led by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, it is the single most influential gathering of women from politics, technology, investment, health care and media, brought together to draft policies that will enhance the worldwide economic power of women.
Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia — a Bay Area-based incubator of female-led startups — and a U.S. delegate to WES, points out that the female-centered focus of WES is itself unusual and historic, adding that the Bay Area provides an environment for out-of-the box thinking that will allow the development policies needed to meet the various challenges for economic empowerment.
“If you look around the room at most of the economic gatherings taking place around the world, you’ll see mostly men,” Vosmek said. “But since we’re used to doing things differently in the Bay Area, and we’re comfortable with change, it doesn’t surprise me that this is the place for WES.”
Research shows that while women represent 53 percent of new hires, by the time when “individual contributors” are promoted to managers, the number drops to 37 percent, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit focused on expanding opportunities for women in business.
Catalyst also reports that only 26 percent of vice presidents and senior executives are female, and only 14 percent of executive committees, on average, are women. The research also found a 26 percent difference in return on invested capital between companies with 19-44 percent women on the board and companies with zero female directors.
Vosmek also points out the lack of funding granted to startups run by women. She points to a Kauffman Foundation reports which says that even though 50 percent of United States business school undergraduates are women, 37 percent of MBA degrees are awarded to women, and females make up a hefty chunk of those graduating with advanced science or math degrees, less than 10 percent of venture capital goes to companies with female founders.
And according to a U.N. study, collectively the 21 economies of the Asia-Pacific region lose between $42 billion to $47 billion in GDP annually by not tapping into women’s economic potential.
What can be done to unleash the hidden potential of this market? Barbara Kasoff, president and CEO of nonpartisan public policy organization Women in Public Policy, as well as a U.S. delegate to the summit, believes the answer is supporting women-owned businesses.
“The strongest growth worldwide comes from women-owned businesses, and women business owners have survived a tough economy better, because of they way they do business,” Kasoff said. “They’re careful, they’re strategic. And now they’re positioned better to find their way to leadership.”
“In a time when many economies around the world are rocky, and we’re looking for new solutions, and everyone’s looking for an untapped market,” Vosmek said. “I’m here to tell you: It’s women. We are the great untapped market. Get us access to what we need to start and build companies, and we’ll be able to use this solution that’s right in our own backyard.”
Julie Castro Abrams
Microfinancing works, trickle-down doesn’t
Julie Castro Abrams is the CEO of Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, a San Francisco nonprofit that provides high-potential, low-income women with the training, support and funding to start their own businesses. WISE is expanding to New York and Chicago in 2011.
When a potential new business owner comes to you and asks for help, how do you decide if she’s worth your investment? The first thing we give them is a SWOT analysis: That’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We use this as a tool of assessing the client’s readiness. Is she ready to sit down and write her business plan? Or is this just a dream with a lot of obstacles?
What happens next? A training course that covers everything a small-businessperson needs to write her business plan. Next, we have thousands of volunteers who want to help women start their own business. Maybe we have a group of restaurant owners who meet to go over the business plan of a potential food business, or we connect the businessperson with a mentor in the same field, so she can have someone to talk to as problems arise. Why train women to start their own businesses? Why not job training instead? The population we help is traditionally marginalized; they come to us making $12,000 a year and beset with other difficulties. These are not people who can make money working for someone else. Once these women create their own thriving business, it pays off in many ways. For one thing, once their income rises, they need far fewer social support services. Instead of receiving welfare, they start paying taxes. For another, women who start their own businesses hire locally. Our graduates created 4,300 jobs in 2010, paying an average of $2 over the median for similar jobs.
So there’s a ripple effect. Yes, it’s staggeringly successful, so much so that it makes me frustrated when I watch what’s going on with job creation on a national level. It’s all fine and well to do construction projects, or invest in biotechnology that’s far down the road, but we just hit the highest level of poverty in generations, and we need jobs now. WISE can create a job for a $2,500 investment. Anyone read the news stories about how much each job created by the Economic Recovery Act cost? It’s not $2,500, I can tell you that.
Why tomorrow’s technology needs women’s participation Weili Dai is the co-founder and former chief operating officer of Marvell Technology Group, and the only female founder of a global semiconductor company.
You see a direct link between the technology Marvell enables and working women. What is it? Women can use technology to work without leaving her village and her family. And because technology is helping developing countries compete with advanced countries, globally. The Earth is flat now. If there’s something I don’t know, I can do some Google searches and be knowledgeable in just a few minutes. And I can do that from anywhere in the world, from my home, with my family.
What are the strengths you see in female engineers? From a technical standpoint, they’re very similar to male engineers. But personality-wise, women seem to work more socially. They work well in teams, and it can be easier to build teams around them. It makes sense to me; women have for thousands of years had the responsibility of taking care of their families, so the default is on group activity.
You and your co-founders started Marvell in 1995. Did you think there would be more female technology executives by now? Yes, technology overall absolutely needs more female participation. But I’m hopeful for the future; women engineers tend to make things with great user-interface design. They think about how people use their gadgets, and they have a sense of design and beauty. Moving forward in hightech, it’s going to be less about nerdy code, and more about making things that are easy to use and look great, which hopefully will attract more and more women.
So what do you do to encourage female leaders? Besides, of course, providing an example of a successful woman in technology, I participate in the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. I’ve had women from China and from Kenya come to spend a couple of weeks with me and learn how our business works.
Female innovation leaders
These women — along with other female inventors, scientists and business leaders — will be honored Thursday at the APEC Reception Honoring Women Innovators.
Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh Chairwoman and CEO REE Corp., Vietnam
When Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh joined the state-owned Refrigeration Engineering Enterprise in 1982, it was, as she has described it, “a small state-run business in poor condition fitted with used machinery, producing mainly ice-cube makers.” Eleven years later, after seeing Vietnam infused with new business energy under the Doi Moi, or Renovation, program of economic reforms and with her own company stagnating, she decided to petition the government to privatize the company.
REE became the first company in Vietnam to be privatized under the Doi Moi reforms, the first company listed on the New Stock Exchange of Vietnam in 2000, and the first Vietnamese company to raise capital by issuing stock.
Dong Mingzhu Vice chairwoman and president Gree Electric Appliances, China
Mingzhu started out at Gree, a maker of air conditioners, as a saleswoman. Assigned to a particularly poor province, she sold so many air conditioners that she caught the attention of higher-ups, and rose quickly through the ranks, becoming president in 2001. Under her leadership, Gree has adopted flexible sales strategies while investing heavily in research and development, a strategy known as “Gree Mode.” The result is double-digit growth every year since 2005, and Gree has become the No. 1 air conditioning manufacturer in China.
Mingzhu’s management principles are widely imitated in China; she also wrote one of the most influential Chinese business books, “Check Around the World,” about her experiences managing Gree. The book was so popular it was even adapted into a television series.
Edita Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy Science- and technology-baseddragon fruit farming, Philippines
Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy didn’t intend to become a farmer. All she was looking for was relief for one of her daughter’s medical problems. After Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy discovered that dragon fruit, a little-known fruit from the cactus family, helped relieve her daughter’s symptoms, she decided to try to grow the fruit in her backyard.
That simple decision has mushroomed into a dragon fruit plantation, REFMAD Farms, where Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy not only grows the fruit, but operates the farm as a kind of science- and technology-based farming laboratory, where various growing methods are tested, and the results are communicated to other farmers.
Dr. Patricia Bath Opthalmologist and inventor, United States
Eye care should be colorblind. But when Dr. Patricia Bath worked in noted New York hospitals in the dawn of her medical career, she noticed that blindness was much more common in poor and minority populations. Her subsequent work to get top-rate medical care to these populations pioneered the trend of “community opthamology” — free or low-cost eye care provided by volunteers.
Bath holds five U.S. patents, including the Laserphaco Probe, a medical device that helps remove cataracts from the eyes with lasers. Bath was the first black female doctor to receive a patent for a medical device, and the Laserphaco Probe continues to be used all around the world.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a commitment from 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation to boost economic growth and productivity by removing barriers to women. Clinton, in a speech, laid out an economic case for APEC members to end such discriminatory practices as taxing women, limiting their ability to own property or to get access to capital, markets, jobs, training and positions of leadership.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today a commitment from 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation to boost economic growth and productivity by removing barriers to women.
Clinton, in a speech, laid out an economic case for APEC members to end such discriminatory practices as taxing women, limiting their ability to own property or to get access to capital, markets, jobs, training and positions of leadership.
“When everyone has a chance to participate in the economic life of nations, we can all be richer, because more of us would be contributing to the global GDP,” Clinton told an audience at an APEC meeting on women and the economy in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Declaration adopted today commits APEC’s members to pursue a “generation-long journey,” Clinton said. In doing so, they’ll create a fundamental economic shift that leaves member countries more competitive and prosperous, she said.
Clinton’s announcement married two of her strongest interests. She has focused on women and children since early in her professional life, she has sought to leverage the State Department’s power to boost economic growth.
Clinton cited today a study by consultants McKinsey & Co. that found that approximately one-quarter of U.S. gross domestic product is attributable to productivity gains tied to the rise of women in the U.S. workplace over the last 40 years, from holding 37 percent of all jobs, to 48 percent.
“That works out to more than $3.5 trillion,” Clinton said. “More than the GDP of Germany, and more than half the GDPs of China and Japan,” she said.
And she highlighted a World Bank finding that by eliminating discrimination against female workers and managers, companies “could significantly increase productivity per worker by 25 to 40 percent.”
Getting more women into the economic life of a country has ripple effects that benefit everyone, Clinton said.
Her list included greater political stability, fewer military conflicts, more food, more educational opportunity for children and financial stability for more families in the world.
Studies have shown that women spend more of their earned income on food, health care, home improvement and schooling -- reinvesting in ways that lead to more job growth and ensure better educated, healthier citizens, Clinton said.
Women also save more than men, according to research Clinton cited, with the higher savings rate translating into a higher tax base.
APEC has discussed the issue of women’s economic participation before and has made uneven progress toward change, Clinton said. In the U.S. and every APEC economy, women are “still sidelined.”
Only 11 of the CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies are women, Clinton said.
Clinton has already launched women’s economic projects in Africa. The African Growth Opportunity Act created an initiative to help African women entrepreneurs build export capacity and take advantage of trade opportunities.
And she has launched TechWomen, a technology program in which women from around the world have been mentored by women in the Silicon Valley. At the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Clinton has also advanced an effort to collect data on women’s education, entrepreneurship, and employment.
Speaking to the audience of government officials and private companies from APEC countries, Clinton urged data collection that’s disaggregated by gender so the group has hard statistics to ensure countries are making progress and to detail the impact of women’s participation.
"Walmart Launches Global Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative; Effort Includes Goal to Source $20 Billion from Women-Owned Businesses in the U.S." read the headline on Walmart's press release announcing a new "gender washing" initiative.
Well, ok, they didn't mention "gender washing." I made up the term to convey the same meaning "green washing" evokes when it's used to describe companies that try to look environmentally responsible -- while doing little or nothing to actually change themselves or improve the environment.
Still, $20 billion is a lot of money. Or is it? According to the New York Times, the $4 billion a year that Walmart will spend sourcing from women-owned U.S. businesses works out to a measly 5% of the company's annual operating expenses.
Lauren Leader-Chivée, Senior Vice President at the Center for Work-Life Policy, summarizes recent CWLP research that shows that as employers promote flexible and part-time work arrangements for parents, non-parents are left working longer hours and, in many cases, picking up the slack.
For decades, top companies have been competing to become family- and child-friendly, offering a host of benefits and flexible work options all aimed at attracting and retaining parents. But as employers promote flexible and part-time work arrangements for parents, non-parents are left working longer hours and, in many cases, picking up the slack. And there lies the rub.
New research from the Center for Work-Life Policy into Generation X, which spans ages 33 to 46, shows that 61 percent of childless Xer women and 40 percent of Xer men feel that their colleagues with children are given more latitude with flexible work arrangements.
A study conducted at Montana State University finds that even though breastfeeding is healthy, cheap and beneficial to mother and child, there is a strong bias against nursing mothers among both men and women.
Drawing from the objectification literature, three experiments tested the hypothesis that breastfeeding mothers are the victims of bias. In Study 1, participants rated a woman who had breastfed as incompetent. Study 2 replicated these effects and determined that the bias was specific to conditions that sexualized the breast. In Study 3, participants interacted with a confederate in which attention was drawn to her as a mother, as a mother who breastfeeds, as a woman with sexualized breasts, or in a neutral condition. Results showed the breastfeeding confederate was rated significantly less competent in general, in math and work specifically, and was less likely to be hired compared to all other conditions, except for the sexualized breast condition. Importantly, the breastfeeding mother emphasis and the sexualized breast emphasis resulted in equally negative evaluations. Results suggest that although breastfeeding may be economical and healthy, the social cost is potentially great.
A study conducted at Montana State University finds that even though breastfeeding is healthy, cheap and beneficial to mother and child, there is a strong bias against nursing mothers among both men and women.
Jessi L. Smith, psychology professor at MSU, found that participants in three studies thought nursing mothers were not as mentally competent as other groups of women and said they'd be less likely to hire breastfeeding mothers for a job.
The results of Smith's study were published this summer in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Smith and her co-authors questioned MSU students in three double-blind studies about how they perceived breastfeeding moms' competence and hire-ability compared to non-breastfeeding people.
In all three studies, the students rated breastfeeding women as significantly less competent in general and particularly less competent in math.
Smith, who became a mother in 2007 after the study was under way, chose to breastfeed her child and said it's not surprising that new mothers considering breastfeeding are often daunted just thinking about the task.
"It's the 21st century," she said. "We have come a long way today in educating ourselves about the health and economic benefits of nursing to both mother and child, but we have done nothing to talk about the fact that breast milk actually comes from the breast and not bottles."
Promoting breastfeeding to increase the number of nursing mothers would help stem the bias by letting people see that it isn't a rare thing, Smith said.
"Right now, it's not surprising that nursing mothers feel isolated," she said.
Employers could also do their part to encourage breastfeeding by providing a private place for mothers to nurse their children since many mothers are required to return to work just six weeks after the birth of their babies.
"You can't establish a good breastfeeding bond in six weeks and make a good assessment if breastfeeding will work for you and your child," she said.
She pointed out that health organizations, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women's Health, stress the economic and health benefits of nursing and advise that breastfeeding protects babies, benefits mothers' health and society.
Smith has taken her research a step further with an INBRE-funded grant to study actual social psychological barriers to breastfeeding mothers. She has collected data from new mothers in Billings, Bozeman, Kalispell, Miles City and Missoula. She is now analyzing the data and plans to publish the results early next year.
A report published today by the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission shows a continuing trend of women being passed over for top jobs in Britain. More than 5,400 women are missing from Britain’s 26,000 most powerful posts.
From the press release:
A new report, published today by the Commission, shows a continuing trend of women being passed over for top jobs in Britain. More than 5,400 women are missing from Britain’s 26,000 most powerful posts.
The report, Sex & Power 2011, measures the number of women in positions of power and influence across 27 occupational categories in the public and private sectors.
The Commission’s report calculates that at the current rate of change it will take around 70 years to reach an equal number of men and women directors of FTSE 100 companies. It also found it could be up to 70 years before there are an equal number of women MPs in parliament – another 14 general elections.
Worryingly, the results of this year’s report differ very little from those in the previous report of 2008..
Figures from this year’s report reveal that, while women are graduating from university in increasing numbers and achieve better degree results than men, and despite level pegging with men in their twenties, they are not entering management ranks at the same rate, and many remain trapped in the layer below senior management.
Among this year’s findings were:
In politics women represent:
22.2 per cent of MPs (up from 19.3 per cent in 2008)
17.4 per cent of Cabinet members (down from 26.1 per cent in 2008)
21.9 per cent of members of the House of Lords (up from 19.7 per cent in 2008)
13.2 per cent of Local authority council leaders (down from 14.3 per cent in 2008)
In business women represent:
12.5 per cent of directors of FTSE 100 companies (up from 11 per cent in 2008)
7.8 per cent of directors in FTSE 250 companies (up from 7.2 per cent in 2008)
In media and culture, women represent:
9.5 per cent of national newspaper editors (down from 13.6 per cent in 2008)
6.7 per cent of chief executives of media companies in the FTSE 350 and the director general of the BBC (down from 10.5 per cent in 2008)
26.1 per cent of directors of major museums and art galleries (up from 17.4 per cent in 2008)
In the public and voluntary sector, women represent:
12.9 per cent of senior members of the judiciary (up from 9.6 per cent in 2008)
22.8 per cent of local authority chief executives (up from 19.5 per cent in 2008)
35.5 per cent of head teachers of secondary schools (down from 36.3 per cent in 2008)
14.3 per cent of university vice chancellors (down from 14.4 per cent in 2008)
Studies have shown that outdated working patterns where long hours are the norm, inflexible organisations and the unequal division of domestic responsibilities are major barriers to women’s participation in positions of authority.
The British economy is paying the price for this exclusion. It has been suggested that greater diversity on corporate boards would improve business performance and increase levels of corporate social responsibility.
Researchers at Notre Dame, Cornell, and the University of Western Ontario document the effects of gender and “agreeableness” in their study, “Do Nice Guys – and Gals – Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income.” The study finds that there is a penalty for being agreeable in the workplace, and, while men earn a premium for being disagreeable, women don’t.
From the news release:
Do nice guys –and gals– really finish last?
In the workplace they do, according to new research co-authored by University of Notre Dame Management Professor Timothy Judge. But there also is a double standard for women and, yes, a pay gap.
In contemporary psychology, “agreeableness” is one of the “Big Five” dimensions of personality used to describe human personality. It generally refers to someone who is warm, sympathetic, kind and cooperative (in short, a “nice” person), and is the most valued characteristic cited when people are asked to identify with whom they want to spend time.
But in terms of predicting workplace success, “agreeableness” doesn’t carry the same cachet, says Judge.
“We studied four large data sets,” he says. “And in all four we found there is a penalty for being agreeable in the workplace. But, while men earn a premium for being disagreeable, women don’t.”