Posts Tagged 'gender diversity'

‘Woman’: Not a Box to Be Checked Off

by Caroline Turner for The Huffington Post

Everyone knows that having women on a company’s board of directors is good for the company’s bottom line. (If you need a refresher, click on the business case, a free download on my website.) Catalyst did a study of companies with “sustained” high representation of women — at least three women board members in a minimum of four of five years studied. These companies significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation — 84 percent higher return on sales, 60 percent higher return on invested capital and 46 percent higher return on equity.

The Catalyst study indicates that what makes a difference to the bottom line is not having a woman but having women… plural. A 2006 study by Wellesley Centers for Women concluded that “a critical mass of three or more women can cause a fundamental change in the boardroom and enhance corporate governance.” When there are three, “women are no longer seen as outsiders and are able to influence the content and process of board discussions more substantially.”

This makes sense given the phenomenon that Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant addressed in their article “Speaking While Female.” If there is one woman, she may not speak up, she may be talked over, or her ideas may be credited to a man who repeats them. As a result, the feminine voice will not be represented. There is no real gender diversity. There is just a token. Read more here.

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The Corporate Governance Climate in 2015

by Patricia Lenkov for The Huffington Post

In the ever-changing and always dynamic world of corporate governance, it can be challenging to keep up with the trends and developments when not focused on these matters full-time. Post corporate implosions of the past 10 years and the subsequent regulatory changes and demands on continuous improvement and increased transparency in the boardroom have heightened the pace of change for boards everywhere. 2015 will surely continue this trend. Accordingly, here are some of the important issues from the world of corporate governance that should continue to make the news and be the subject of debate and speculation:

Gender Diversity

The topic of gender diversity in the boardroom (or lack thereof) has never been more focused on than at present. According to Catalyst, the U.S. based non-profit, women now hold 19.2% of all seats on S&P 500 boards (Catalyst Census). In Canada, the number is slightly better at 20.8% of seats on the S&P/TSX60 index.

2015 will undoubtedly see more push to increase the number of women board directors. Quotas in countries as varied as Norway, Australia and The United Arab Emirates are having an impact as other countries debate and question their own policies. It is generally surmised that here in the U.S., gender quotas will not materialize. Most believe that there are other ways to “move the needle.” This includes term limits, age limits and other board refreshment approaches (more on this later.) Nevertheless we have definitely moved past the question of whether more women in the boardroom leads to improved results because it has been proven time and again that it does.

Other Types of Diversity

To maximize effectiveness, the composition of a corporate board should reflect its customers, the employees of the company and even other stakeholders such as investors. Consequently, diversity in the boardroom does not start and end with gender. In fact, it is safe to say that diversity in the boardroom, at least here in the U.S., has been a focus of attention for some time. However, the context has historically been ethnic diversity. Read more here.

UK’s Top Boardrooms Look Set To Hit 25% Women Target

by Dina Medland for Forbes

Women now make up 23.5% of non-executive director positions on the boards of Britain’s top FTSE 100 listed companies. Just 17 more female appointments to these boards are needed to reach the 25% female target by end-2015 set by Lord Davies of Abersoch four years ago in his review for the UK government on the under-representation of women on boards.

“The rate of change that we have seen in FTSE 100 companies over the last four years has been remarkable. The voluntary approach is working, boards are getting fixed” Lord Davies will say at the launch of his report in London today.

“FTSE 100 boards have made enormous progress in the last four years, almost doubling female representation to just shy of 25 per cent.  We must celebrate this outstanding achievement and the change in culture that is taking hold at the heart of British business. The evidence is irrefutable: boards with a healthy female representation outperform their male-dominated rivals” Vince Cable, the UK Business Secretary who commissioned the Davies Review, will say today.

The authors of the Female FTSE Board Report 2015 who include Professor Susan Vinnicombe CBE, Dr Ruth Sealy and Dr Elena Doldor of Cranfield University’s School of Management –  say that if the appointment rate of one woman to every two men appointed is sustained over the coming months, the 25% target should indeed be met before the end of this year.

Women in leadership: An investing strategy that’s working

by Clare O’Hara for The Globe and Mail

While there are no investment products in Canada that focus exclusively on gender diversity, that doesn’t mean fund companies are turning a blind eye.

Fund families such as NEI Ethical Funds, OceanRock Meritas Funds and IA Clarington Inhance SRI Funds are starting to integrate gender diversity issues into their investment approaches as part of their socially responsible investing (SRI) strategies.

“The SRI fund companies have been successfully involved in engagement on gender diversity issues,” says Deb Abbey, CEO of the Responsible Investment Association. “They have been engaged in dialogue with many of the companies in their portfolios and have been actively voting their proxies in favour of gender diversity on boards.”

Last year, the Ontario Securities Commission implemented a new rule that requires companies to provide more transparency on their policies to add more women to their boards of directors and senior management ranks. Read more here.

Germany Sets Gender Quota in Boardrooms

by Alison Smale and Claire Cain Miller for The New York Times

Germany on Friday became the latest and most significant country so far to commit to improving the representation of women on corporate boards, passing a law that requires some of Europe’s biggest companies to give 30 percent of supervisory seats to women beginning next year.

Fewer than 20 percent of the seats on corporate boards in Germany are held by women, while some of the biggest multinational companies in the world are based here, including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler — the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles — as well as Siemens, Deutsche Bank, BASF, Bayer and Merck.

Supporters said the measure has the potential to substantially alter the landscape of corporate governance here and to have repercussions far beyond Germany’s borders.

In passing the law, Germany joined a trend in Europe to accomplish what has not happened organically, or through general pressure: to legislate a much greater role for women in boardrooms. Read more here.

How to Change the Ratio of Women on Boards

By Lydia Dishman for Fast Company

Does gender really matter when you’re in a leadership position?

Not as much as you might think.

A new study from the Pew Research Center found that honesty, intelligence, and decisiveness are believed to be the most essential leadership traits, according to 80% of adults. Both men and women agree. Large swaths of both genders say that innovation and intelligence is in evidence in both men and women. As for honesty, ambition, and decisiveness —there’s no gender distinction there, either.

If that is the case, there’s even less of a reason for the disparity of female board members at public companies in the U.S. According to a new study from nonprofitresearch organization Catalyst, the U.S. has 19.2% of board seats at S&P 500 companies, lagging behind Norway, Finland, France and Sweden, each around 30%.

Statistics like these had Solange Charas, puzzled and frustrated. Before she started her own consulting firm, Charas spent more than 20 years in c-suites and a variety of company boards including heading up human resources at Praetorian Financial Group and EURO RSCG, a national director at Arthur Anderson, a leader of the international compensation team at Towers Perrin, and was a board member of Martha Stewart’s company (pre-IPO). Read more here.

Women stall on reaching corporate Australia’s highest rungs

by Alana Schetzer for The Sydney Morning Herald

Harvey Norman’s Gerry Harvey is known for being outspoken – whether sharing his views on the evils of online retailing, restrictive workplace laws or corporate governance types who frown on his role as executive chairman of the retailer.

And he’s no less blunt when it comes to the issue of gender equality in corporate Australia – and the chances of it ever being realised.

“We’ve got a campaign here to get 50 per cent women and we’re not achieving it,” he says. “We’re well short.”

Women make up 42 per cent of the retailer’s workforce but just 26per cent of senior executives – although that figure does include a rare female chief executive, KatiePage. Read more here.


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