Last week, NCRW held a two-day corporate leadership summit (April 27-28) at Time Warner. It was an inspiring series of roundtables and explorations of the challenges and opportunities for retaining and advancing women of color in the corporate sector.
Increasing numbers of women are heading to business school due to a weakened economy, the flexibility the degree affords and an effort by universities to actively recruit more female students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, women received 44% of M.B.A.s in 2007, up from 39% a decade earlier, which translates to a 75% increase in the last 10 years
The glass ceiling remains. Among Fortune 500 companies, women occupy 15% of board seats and are 3% of CEOs. In Canada, women make up 14% of board seats and 4% of CEOs at Financial Post 500 businesses. There are only four female CEOs leading the 100 most highly capitalized blue chip companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, while 10% of board seats in Europe are held by women — a percentage largely buoyed by Norway's strict boardroom diversity laws.
Companies must take care to level the playing field from the start. The student body at Harvard Business School is 36% female, France's INSEAD, an international business school, is 29% and London Business School is 27%. When these talented women graduate this year, they should look for companies with a robust pipeline of women in middle management and at the top.
What is research and what role does it play in effecting social change? What does it mean to be a professor and researcher, particularly as a woman of color? Why should women get involved in research as undergraduates and graduate students?
Our Spring Women's Research Forum will explore opportunities and challenges facing researchers when addressing social issues. Professors Billie Gastic and Charleen Brantley and graduate student Susan Choy will discuss various ways that students can make a difference through research. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome.
One way to increase the number of women on boards is to ensure that more women gain the right experience further down the corporate hierarchy. That may be a slower process than imposing a quota, but it is also likely to be a more meaningful and effective one.
What most prevents women from reaching the boardroom, say bosses and headhunters, is lack of hands-on experience of a firm’s core business. Too many women go into functional roles such as accounting, marketing or human resources early in their careers rather than staying in the mainstream, driving profits. Some do so by choice, but others fear they will not get ahead in more chauvinist parts of a business.