women directors

Closing The Wage Gap

 
A few years ago, my daughter applied for her first job after college. She worked hard on her resume and cover letter, was asked to come in for an interview and landed the job. Bubbling with excitement, she called to tell me the news. After congratulating her, hearing about the meeting and the responsibilities of the job, I asked how much money she'd be making. Sheepishly, she said, "I didn't ask."
 
I couldn't believe it.  With college loans and rent to pay, my daughter needed a paycheck. I asked her why she didn't ask and her answer astounded me. "I thought it was impolite to talk about money," she said.
 
What I hadn't taught her, and what her university failed to teach her, was that it's OK -- even necessary -- to talk about money. It's a problem that many women have.
 
In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg tells a story about negotiating her contract at Facebook. She recounts how she was prepared to accept a compensation package that was less than she thought she deserved until her brother-in-law pointedly asked "why would you be willing to make less than any man would make to do the same job?"[1] She went back, re-negotiated with Mark Zuckerberg, and got the package she thought she deserved.
 

Old Attitudes Die Hard

We're often asked why it's taking so long for companies to diversify their boards.  Several studies in the news hint that hidden bias may be the culprit and a leading cause for discrimination in settings like academia, business and even the courts.
 
A few weeks ago I had jury duty. Waiting to see if I'd get picked for a trial, I watched a video about the Massachusetts court system. Here's what I learned:
 
Women in Massachusetts were only permitted to serve on juries in 1950 -- a full 30 years after getting the right to vote. My liberal home state was 39th in the nation to allow women defendants to be judged by their peers. In 1975 the US Supreme Court made it the law of the land, ruling that women could not be excluded from the jury pool. In 1979, the Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court ruled that particular traits, including race and gender, could not be used to strike potential jurors. The landmark decision, Commonwealth v. Soares, is considered to mark the end of permissible gender bias in the selection of jurors in Massachusetts. [1]
 
The end of permissible bias ... there's the rub! Only 40 years ago (less than two generations) juries were comprised of white men. This 'norm' informed our social and cultural memory. It got me to wondering: Can you overcome gender bias without regulation, and if so, how long does it take? Is it a matter of years or might it take generations?
 

Women Directors: Gaining Ground

Our recently released 2nd annual 2020 Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 companies showed that women now hold 15.6% of the board seats of Fortune 1000 companies, up a percentage point from last year. At this rate of growth, we are well on our way to surpass the campaign goal of 20% by 2020.
 
Smaller companies (numbers 501 - 1000) showed the largest gain this year, 13.6% in 2012 compared with 12.4% in 2011 when the 2020 Index was introduced. We were particularly pleased to see the gains in this group because historically, smaller companies have been slower to add women to their boards than larger companies (in Fortune 100 companies almost 20% (19.9%) of the board seats are held by women).
 
The number of "W" companies (those with 20% or more women) grew this year to 308 from 273 last year, a gain of 13%. The number of Z companies (those with no women on their boards) fell in 2012 to 152 from 177 in 2011, a 14% change. Ten companies this year added two or more women to their boards, which boosted one, Benchmark Electronics, from Z to W status.
 
Catch us in the Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2012/10/18/more-women-find-seats-at-the-boardroom-table/

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