Kgreeley's blog

Women's Empowerment at Heart of Sustainable Development

The room was packed at the UN Global Compact/UN Women's 'Equality Means Business' conference on Tuesday. Representatives from companies and NGOs around the world gathered to discuss the United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles, a seven-step blueprint to empower women in the workplace to create a sustainable economy with strong economic return.

We were warmly welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and by Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Office. Joe Keefe, CEO of Pax World Managers, was a key-note speaker and Finnish Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen hosted a reception following the conference.

The rest of us - presenters and attendees – were mostly women – some heavy hitters, including Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary and Executive Director-UN Women, Guler Sabanci, Chairman and Managing Director, Sabanci Holdings, AS, the Honorable Elizabeth Thompson, UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Coordinator of the 2012 Rio+20 Conference, and the Honorable Linda Tarr-Whelan, an expert on women's leadership in the US and internationally. It was a room full of women with a handful of men - what you'd expect from a conference about women’s empowerment.

The early discussions focused on the need for more women in leadership positions, in the executive suites and boardrooms of global companies (Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality). But that discussion paled when a presenter discussed the social and economic plight of women in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, who have been disfigured beyond recognition by jealous husbands and suitors who throw acid at them when their sexual advances are shunned. A new program provides medical care and training to help these women get on their feet and become participating members of their communities. (Principle 3: Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers).

Facebook: Want to be an industry leader? Start acting like one.

Companies that represent the new age of American business have a responsibility to model new strategies and not rely on tired business practices of the past.

Social media has been abuzz about the Facebook IPO. And the word is, there's little to like about this deal.  Facebook's governance measures do an abrupt about face against progress in shareholder-friendly governance, according to a Reuters post.

Last week the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) suggested to Mark Zuckerberg that he improve his company's corporate governance, including adding women to its board of directors.

"With a person that owns as much of the stock and the way he has set up the governance ... it will be very hard to influence him except if he's got some kind of a conscience," said Janice Hester-Amey, a CalSTRS portfolio manager.

Does Mark Zuckerberg have a conscience? We're waiting to see.

Meanwhile, if you've been wondering how Facebook's board composition compares with the Dow's Top Ten Best Yielding Stocks (Motley Fool) take a look. The old, established Blue Chips fare better than this seemingly modern company.  What do they know that Zuckerberg doesn't?

These industry leaders know that board diversity is smart business. They rely on the best talent they can find, regardless of gender, to protect shareholder value. Facebook should learn from these industry giants and add a woman to its board now.


Company            % women directors        2020 Category

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

How can it be? Facebook will file for an IPO this week without a single woman on its board of directors. Are you kidding? Without women, where would Facebook be?

In June The PEW Internet and American Life Project revealed that 58 percent of all Facebook users are women. Women do most of the status updating, make most of the comments, upload most of the photos and hit the Like button most frequently.

I read in the paper recently that your revenue strategy relies heavily on advertising.  Haven't you heard? Women influence 80% of consumer spending.

Maybe your board thinks that because women are so busy socializing on Facebook they're too busy to achieve the necessary credentials for board service. You should know that women comprise over half the workforce and make up about half of all management positions. A third of all businesses are owned by women, employing more than 13 million people and generating $1.9 trillion in sales.

Here's an idea: Put Sheryl Sandberg on your board. Starbucks did. And so did Disney. She'll be an insider, but that's better than having no women directors.

You may be aware that we recently published the 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Directory, a list of over 1,000 companies categorized by the gender diversity of their boards. It's outrageous that Facebook will launch as a Zero “Z” company.

Mark, we encourage you to do better. Take the 2020 Challenge. Add a woman within two years and get to 20% by 2020.  Your Facebook users want and deserve a seat at the table.






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