Tag Archive for ‘Catalyst’
Since taking over the top job at General Motors in January, Mary Barra has been low-key about the fact that she’s the first woman ever to lead the giant auto maker. And that is a good thing, says columnist Gael O’Brien. “Because there are so few women CEOs,” she writes, “there is a danger that in celebrating them we can go too far — celebrity status conferred on, cultivated or accepted creates a rock star status which when associated with leadership has real risks.”
With greater gender diversity on a corporate board, comes better performance. Opinions differ as to why, but myriad research studies from leading academic institutions and the private sector all make a compelling case for more balanced gender representation on boards. The debate should be long over, yet women’s presence on U.S. corporate boards remains frustratingly, persistently low.
Even though the business case for increasing the number of women in senior management and on corporate boards has been made – successfully – columnist Gael O’Brien wonders why there hasn’t been more progress in making it happen. The answer, she suggests, may lie in the “self-seal” that often surrounds organizations and their leaders.
For women seeking to advance in greater numbers to CEO and board roles, gender diversity continues to move at a tortoise pace. At Fortune 500 companies, women still represent only 3.6 percent of CEOs and hold only 16 percent of board seats. Improving on that, says columnist Gael O’Brien, will require a leadership of engagement.
Across the globe, the trend toward corporate governance reform continues in response to the global financial crisis and to the opening of markets in developing economies. But consultants for the executive search firm Spencer Stuart think some of that may be overdone. “Governance regulation plays a valuable role,” they write, “but those who elevate its standing to that of corporate savior are exaggerating its power.”
Author Caroline Turner suggests that enrolling others in creating a culture of inclusion requires that you present a clear business case that fits your industry and organization. “It requires,” she writes, “that the leaders of your organization understand the business value of inclusion and gender diversity.”
Columnist Gael O’Brien says the U.S. has failed to show leadership in gender diversity on corporate boards, raising questions about what it can learn from other countries that have imposed quotas for women directors. While quotas can stir up discomfort, she writes, there’s a “complacency, even smugness” about boardroom diversity in the U.S. that argues in favor of requiring companies to take action.
Mounting documentation on the extent of gender inequity has brought with it the attendant media attention that opens boardroom doors. As a result, writes columnist Gael O’Brien, the work of Nominating Committees has been moved into the public domain. Politicians, governments, investors, activist groups and others are saying things have to change.
A new report from The Corporate Library finds that while almost 90 percent of S&P 500 companies have at least one woman board member, there are far fewer women directors at smaller companies, and even at larger companies “women are typically a small minority and hold few positions of responsibility.”