We’ve seen this movie before and the ending still stinks.
The sex-discrimination lawsuit by Ellen Pao against the Silicon Valley venture-capital firmKleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers may be the gender and workplace story of the moment. But let’s get one thing straight: This doesn’t describe anything that’s new. It seems to happen routinely. Just yesterday, at a hearing in London, a lawyer for Latifa Bouabdillah, a former Deutsche Bank AG director, said the woman’s male colleagues were paid bonuses “double or triple that of the claimant” for the same work.
Swap out Pao for Pamela Martens, who led the class-action “Boom-Boom Room” lawsuit against Smith Barney in the 1990s, or Allison Schieffelin, who sued Morgan Stanley in 2001, or Carla Ingraham, who sued UBS AG in 2009, and you wind up with some combination of the same old complaints: coworker come-ons, power meetings for guys only, higher pay for men and retaliation against the uppity women who have the nerve to complain.
In the venture-capital world, where you get more than the usual share of people who are prone to thinking their every experience is novel, there is shock over news that a highly qualified woman has filed a suit against a celebrity firm. But sex discrimination isn’t the iPad, folks. It’s more like the electric typewriter.
Since 2007, McKinsey has been researching intensively the advancement of women in the workplace. The business benefits are clear: a wider, deeper swath of talent to solve problems, spark innovation, and, in many cases, mirror a company’s own customer base.
The Corps plans to open 371 jobs to women under a Defense Department “exception to policy” overriding longtime ground combat restrictions. Women already serve in air combat, on battle ships and at the brigade level of ground combat units. The new jobs allow them to formally serve at the battalion level.
The first batch of 44 female Marines, including 14 officers and 30 senior non-commissioned officers, were cleared to begin new assignments Friday with artillery, tank, amphibious assault, combat engineer, combat assault, and low altitude air defense battalions, according to Marine Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Quantico, Va.
They will serve with 19 battalions across the Marine Corps’ three divisions, in administration, communication, motor transport, logistics, and supply jobs.
The move to drop the “golden skirt” policy is a sign of ministers’ commitment to strip red tape from companies to get the economy moving.
Ministers said they were “standing up for British business” and were opposing the plans to impose more “burdensome regulation” on companies.
The European Commission launched a consultation in March proposing forcing companies by law to bring in the quotas.
The suggestion for quotas was praised by Prime Minister David Cameron at a summit in Stockholm in March.
However ministers will say the Government is not going to implement the quotas, and instead will merely encourage firms to hire more women in executive positions.
Figures show that nearly 16 per cent of senior positions are now held by women, up from 12.5 per cent last year. If the momentum continues, the number of women on boards will exceed 25 per cent by 2015.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary and Women’s minister, said: “We are encouraging firms to use women’s talents by helping them see the business benefits. But we must allow them to get on with their job.
“Our voluntary approach is reaping rewards. The past year has seen the biggest ever jump in the number of women on boards, and some of the UK's leading companies are now reporting on gender diversity, which will help more women rise to the top.”
Like their sisters all over the developing world, women farmers work hard to grow food for themselves and their families, and for sale. They plant and tend, fertilize and weed, harvest and process -- in short, do all it takes to produce a crop. But they don't get much in return. Their yields are low and, even if some crops are sold, the women may not see any income since men who take the crop to market may not feel obliged to share it.
When international development projects come around to try to change these conditions, they don't always reach out to women farmers. They assume that the women are not the "real" farmers because they don't own land or go to market, or because they have other household responsibilities such as fetching water and caring for children.
However, studies done in many developing countries show that women undertake a variety of farm work along with their household chores. Despite this reality, women are left out of projects that offer new technologies, improved fertilizers or training in practices that could help them produce more. Other studies show that when women have the same access as men to such farming resources, women could produce more, earn more and live better lives.
Fortunately, there is growing support for women farmers like those I met in Tanzania. It comes from the highest levels in global agreements like the G8 L'Aquila Food Security Initiative -- which committed $20 billion over three years for sustainable agriculture development -- and policies such as the United States Agency for International Development's Feed the Future initiative.
Speakers at the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s inaugural Women in Private Equity Forum have come out largely against hiring quotas as a solution to the lack of women working in the industry.
Panellists including Zeina Bain, a director in leveraged buyouts at the Carlyle Group, and guest speaker Laura Tenison, founder of Jojo Maman Bebe, spoke out against the use of quotas following a European Commission proposal to impose mandatory quotas and a report by Lord Davies in which he called for more female board representation at FTSE 100 companies.
Bain said: “I am against quotas. It is hard enough to be taken seriously as a woman. You put yourself out there when you are working on a deal. If there are quotas in place, [people might say] does she know what she is talking about? Why is she here?”
Tenison said in a speech about her experience as an entrepreneur that she disagreed with quotas, noting that she believed that the hiring process should be dependent solely on achievements and merit. “It just so happens that all the directors [on Jojo Maman Bebe’s board], apart from one, are women, and that is because they are right for the job."
In a straw poll of about 80 attendees, only a handful agreed with the use of quotas.
Following the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the spate of corporate frauds and accounting scandals such as Enron, WorldCom, Parmalat, Satyam and China Aviation Oil (Singapore), there has been considerable research about the effectiveness of the board of directors in the corporate governance of firms. There are strong conceptual and business propositions for greater board diversity. In the corporate world, there has been anecdotal evidence from some large corporations such as IBM, Ford Motor, Nortel, Lucent, Sara Lee, Texaco, and DuPont that diversity at every level of the work force tothe board of directors of firms have been cited as an imperative for business success.
The Washington Post reports that Army leaders have begun to study the prospect of sending female soldiers to the service’s prestigious Ranger school — another step in the effort to broaden opportunities for women in the military.
Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff, said Wednesday that he’s asked senior commanders to provide him with recommendations and a plan this summer. And while he stressed that no decisions have been made, he suggested that Ranger school may be a logical next step for women as they move into more jobs closer to the combat lines.
“If we determine that we’re going to allow women to go in the infantry and be successful, they are probably at some time going to have to go through Ranger school,” Odierno told reporters. “If we decide to do this, we want the women to be successful.”
The ranks of female chief executives remain thin, with women in the top spot at just 35 Fortune 1000 companies. But the pipeline is promising, says Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Frontier Communications Corp., adding that she has noticed a number of "women in waiting" at Xerox Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co., where she is a board member.
She adds that she wouldn't be surprised if the number of major-company female CEOs doubled by 2017. At her own employer, a diversified telecom firm, half of Ms. Wilderotter's six direct reports are women.
"If you want a CEO role, you have to prepare for it with a vengeance," says Denise Morrison, chief of Campbell Soup Co. CPB and Ms. Wilderotter's sister.
Karin Kamp asks "Is there an upside to the so-called 'war on women'? Could it be mobilizing a new generation of women leaders?" She interviews some prominent women representing the interests of other women to find out.
Women's issues have been all over the media lately, and not for all the right reasons. Birth control, abortion rights, the Rush Limbaugh Sandra Fluke 'slut' comment controversy, Hilary Rosen's comments on Ann Romney never working a day in her life -- it's really enough to make your head spin. (At least we have one more woman on Forbes' list of billionaires, thanks to Spanx inventorSara Blakely, which had The Story Exchange staff cheering.)
I overheard some young women talking about these issues on the train the other day and that got me thinking... Is there an upside to the so-called "war on women"? Could it be mobilizing a new generation of women leaders? I decided to contact some prominent women representing the interests of other women to find out. Here's what they told me.