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Gender-Driven Growth: Are Quotas in Boardrooms a Positive Force for Change?HuffPost Business February 27, 2014
A controversial debate on Gender-Driven Growth at the World Economic Forum in Davos concluded: Quotas for women in board roles are needed to banish the "tyranny of low expectations." The prestigious panel included Christine Lagarde, Sheryl Sandberg, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Carlos Ghosn.
Highlighting the increasing frustration over the poor representation of women in board Lagarde, President of the International Monetary Fund, spoke out forcefully about the importance of women leaders to boost business performance. She emphasized that action was needed to close the gender gap at the top. "I'm pro-quotas, I'm pro targets, and I think we should be made accountable in order to reach those numbers," Lagarde declared, stressing the importance of measures to accelerate change.
Initially against quotas at the start of her career, Lagarde changed her stance after being told that she would have little chance of being promoted to partner at her Chicago-based international law firm because she was a woman.
Ameriprise adds two women to boardMinneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal February 26, 2014
Ameriprise Financial Inc. added Dianne Neal Blixt and Amy DiGeso to its board of directors Wednesday. The additions bring the board to 10 directors, up from eight after the retirement of Warren Knowlton at the end of 2013. Their appointments also bring the number of females on the board to three, or 30 percent. That number exceeds the 20 percent goal of national organization 2020 Women on Boards, which is pushing for more women on corporate boards.
Women on Board: Credit Unions Seek Volunteer DiversityCredit Union Times February 12, 2014
Roxy Ostrem, chair of the board of directors at Ventura County Credit Union, will never forget a pivotal moment during childhood that launched her lifetime connection with the credit union industry. “I was in need of glasses, but my parents had divorced and my mother could not afford them,” recalled Ostrem, who joined the board at the $654 million cooperative in Ventura, Calif. in 2000. “My mother worked for the County of Ventura and she tried to get a bank loan, but because she was a single mom and did not make much, they turned her down,” she explained. “Fortunately, someone told her about the newly-founded Ventura County Credit Union and suggested she go there.” Not only did her mother get the loan, she also regained her dignity, Ostrem added. “The folks at the credit union made her feel like a human, a woman who now can help her daughter get what was needed,” she said. Ostrem’s mother, the late Patti Shobe, served on VCCU’s board for over 30 years, including two terms as chair.
One big difference between VCCU and most Fortune 500 boards is that the credit union has a high level of gender diversity, Ostrem added. “Women have always made up at least half of our board,” she explained. That’s a rarity, according to recent studies. Last year at Fortune 500 companies, women held only 16.9% of board seats, and 10% of companies had no women serving on boards, according to the 2013 Catalyst Census. “Shareholders beware: a company with no women at the top is missing one of the biggest opportunities in the marketplace today,” Ilene Lang, CEO/president of Catalyst, a New York-based nonprofit founded in 1962 to expand opportunities for women and business, stated in a press release announcing the census results.
How to Ensure We’re Not Having The Same Conversation About Women in the Boardroom in 2014The Glass Hammer February 7, 2014
Sheila Ronning, President & CEO of Women in the Boardroom, does not mince words when it comes to the topic that gave her organization its name. “Research for the amount of women serving on corporate boards is only being done for the Fortune 500 and those boards are still mainly only looking at CEO’s in F500 to fill those spots. So yes, we know there are a lack of women sitting at the helm of those companies,” Ronning said. “Mid cap and small company boards are also a great place for women to take a seat at the table and there are thousands and thousands of women who are more than qualified for these boards. In just the last 12 months, even though we are not a search firm, we at Women in the Boardroom have received 19 notifications of these board seat openings and we work to connect our board ready women with these companies.”
As Ronning affirmed, there are more than enough qualified women, but recent Catalyst research tells us that there has been absolutely no change in the number of women on Fortune 500 boards or the number executive officers and top earners. We’ve talked at length about the lack of female representation at these levels, but what now? How do we ensure we’re not having the same conversation about women in the boardroom in 2014?
Malli Gero is Executive Director and Co-Founder of 2020 Women on Boards, a national campaign working to increase the women on U.S. boards to 20 percent by the year 2020. We need to change the narrative and instead of focusing on the bleak numbers, focus on what can be done. Gero says there are three parties who can be making progress both separately and collectively: stakeholders, CEOs, and individual women. All three, Gero says, are important in the quest for gender parity.
U.S. Boards of Directors Lag Behind in Naming WomenThe Wall Street Journal February 4, 2014
The U.S. is lagging behind other developed nations in the international race to place more women on corporate boards. The ranks of female directors at big public companies are growing faster in several countries, thanks to legal mandates or extensive voluntary efforts. Their board representation ranges from 36% in Norway, whose "pink quota" law took effect in 2008, to 26.8% in Finland, where a corporate push since 2010 has forced companies with no women on their boards to tell investors why.
In the U.S., women occupied just 16.9% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies last year, reports Catalyst, a nonprofit research group. That figure barely budged over the previous eight years.
California Tries to Spur Companies to Name Women DirectorsThe Wall Street Journal February 4, 2014
California lawmakers want the state's publicly held corporations to get more women on their boards—fast. Late last summer, the state legislature passed a resolution, the first of its kind in the U.S., urging public companies to increase the proportion of women board members by the end of 2016. The nonbinding measure suggests targets ranging from at least two seats on boards with fewer than eight seats to at least three seats on boards with nine or more seats.
"The body of evidence to date concludes that companies perform better when their boards and executive leadership include women," the resolution said. Yet "44.8% of California's companies have no women directors."
More Women on Corporate Boards Impacts All of UsHuff Post Women February 3, 2014
2020 Women on Boards, an advocacy organization of 50 affiliates, including women's groups, institutional investors and high-profile CEOs, is sending out "W" (for "winner") certificates this month to the 496 companies that have 20 percent or more board seats held by women. While this number is a small percentage of all the companies in the country, it does represent a gain of 51 companies in the 2020 database of 1500 companies.
US looks on as others up fight against gender inequality in workplaceAl Jazeera America January 27, 2014
U.S. companies are facing increasing pressure to adopt policies that would raise the number of women in the workplace, and in boardrooms that still are predominantly male. And now American advocacy groups are eyeing gender quota rules in Europe, as the controversial issue surfaced among some of the international community’s most powerful women at the latest World Economic Forum meeting.
Calls for gender-equality policies in the United States have followed the implementation of measures such as California’s resolution 62, which took effect last fall. The non-binding legislative nudge “encourages” boards with nine or more members to include three women, and boards of five to eight to include at least two women within three years.
Malli Gero, co-founder and head of 2020 Women on Boards – a U.S.-based advocacy group for gender diversity in the workspace and a primary supporter of the resolution – told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that giving a voice to more women in corporate America will be “a really good thing” for everyone involved. “We are working with our 2020 chapters to work on similar state initiatives” elsewhere in the country, she said. But the California resolution stops short of legally enforcing gender diversity – a strategy with which Gero’s group agrees. “Here in the U.S., we don’t believe in quotas,” she said.
Measures To Increase Gender Diversity On Corporate Boards Gain TractionMondaq January 21, 2014
On Aug. 26, 2013, the California State Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 62,1 which calls for greater representation of women on corporate boards, with a 30-6 vote. Although this resolution does not require corporations to take action, it encourages publicly traded corporations in California with fewer than five board seats to have at least one female director, those with five to eight board seats to have at least two female directors, and those with nine or more director seats to have at least three female directors. It also sets the goal that all publicly traded corporations in the state have at least one woman by 2016. This issue became a front-page headline when Twitter filed for its initial public offering and revealed that its seven-member board was exclusively composed of men. Twitter has named Marjorie Scardino—the former CEO of Pearson—to its board in December 2013.
Diversity an important goal for board membershipTallahassee Democrat January 4, 2014
I love it when people stand up for what they believe. Even when people are on the other side of an issue from me, I appreciate the courage it takes for someone to speak out when others aren’t.
And given my work with nonprofits and my passion for improving the world for women and girls, it was like I had an explosion of interest when I heard about a grassroots nonprofit devoted to increasing the number of women serving on corporate boards.
2020 Women on Boards (20 percent or more of company board seats held by women by 2020) was created in 2010 by Malli Gero and Stephanie Sonnabend. They were motivated by the lack of representation of women on corporate boards and the fact the numbers were not increasing. 2020 Women on Boards concentrates on educating and mobilizing stakeholders, including consumers, on the importance of this issue.
Attention Shareholders: Women in Boardrooms Are Good for BusinessThe Huffington Post December 11, 2013
Women make up almost half of the workforce at middle management, but despite special mentoring and training programs, the pipeline trickles to a halt just shy of executive and board positions. As a result, the number of women in UK and U.S. boardrooms has risen sluggishly on average only one or two percent each year.
These data prompts the uncomfortable question: Why is progress so slow? This makes no sense in the business world especially in light of cogent studies demonstrating a strong business and financial case for increasing the number of female board members.
Studies in the UK's Daily Mail by Sodexo and Catalyst noted that, "companies where women make up a third of board members made on average 42% more profit, and shareholders received 53% higher returns." These figures are astonishing, and yet very few business people are aware of them. Why aren't shareholders more concerned?
Lilly Releases Report on Corporate Responsibility EffortsPRNewswire December 5, 2013
Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) has released its 2012-13 Corporate Responsibility Report.
Among the report's highlights:
- Committed to provide $30 million to fight the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in developing nations from 2012-2016 through the Lilly NCD Partnership
- Pledged an additional $30 million to fund the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership through 2016, focusing on healthcare provider training and improving the supply of and access to safe, effective, and high-quality medications
- Helped over 300,000 people gain access to our medicines through the U.S. patient-assistance program, Lilly TruAssist, an increase of 18 percent over 2011
- Since 2011, nearly 600 employees have devoted nearly 24,000 hours to Connecting Hearts Abroad, a program that allows employees to volunteer on company time in countries where people lack basic resources or access to quality health care
- Donated more than $12 million to the United Way in 2012, a record high for Lilly
- Added more than 360 new clinical trial sites with minority patient populations of more than 25 percent
- Received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's "Best Places to Work: Corporate Index" in 2012
- Recognized by DiversityInc as one of the "Top 50 Companies for Diversity, " and as a model of workplace flexibility for employees
- Selected as a 2020 Women on Boards Winning Company for commitment to diversity on the board of directors
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