Liz Bolshaw

’Tis the season, not of mists, but of lists: 12 days of Christmas; three kings; 10 most valuable chief executives.

George Paz (chief executive of St Louis-based pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts), Steve Jobs (the late chief executive of Apple) and Louis Camilleri (Philip Morris International) all feature in the top 10 of an end-of-year ranking of chief executives (rated by how much wealth they have created for their companies). There are no prizes for guessing what is missing.

In fact you have to scroll down to number 111 before you find a female chief executive – Carol Meyrowitz, of TJX, the discount retailer, and 14th in the FT’s top 50 women in business.

The list, compiled by Chief Executive, the US magazine, ranks chief executives of Fortune 500 companies by a set of financial performance metrics including total shareholder return, for the 36 months to June 30 2011 and ranks only those who have been in post for the whole three years.

In spite of all the efforts to support women’s careers, and all the research that shows diversity to be a performance advantage, the fact remains that too few women are making it to the top.

Research by Catalyst, a non-profit organisation focusing on women and work issues, discussed here, reveals that only 3.2 per cent of the chief executives of Fortune 500 companies are women – 17 of the 500. In fact the percentage of female chief executives of Fortune 500 companies has increased only from 0.2 per cent in 1995 to 3.2 per cent today.

Change takes time. In 1890 no woman on the planet had a vote, and it took a century for universal suffrage to spread to 96 per cent of countries (1994).

This is my 168th post for this blog since we launched on October 13 last year. In that time I have written some 60,000 words on the general subject of diversity and women in leadership and interviewed academics, researchers, chief executives and policymakers. There is far more consensus than disagreement: only the question of compulsory quotas has engendered real debate.

We have learnt that even in countries that have significantly broadened women’s access to high-paid positions, this does not necessarily translate into the boardroom. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010), women occupy more than 50 per cent of high-paying management and professional positions, but just 16.1 per cent of board seats.

We have also discovered there is no correlation between economic development and diversity. In Europe, where not quite 12 per cent of board members are female, women hold 17 per cent of board positions in Bulgaria and Latvia.

As I watch the mounting excitement of my sons and daughter as Christmas approaches, I hope that by the time they make their career choices a decade from now, this blog will appear a quaint irrelevance.

Happy holidays to all our readers.

 

Liz Bolshaw

There have been many studies showing women’s disproportionately low participation in entrepreneurship and their poor access to capital and networks, but a report published this week is the first to give a comprehensive picture of the state of female entrepreneurship worldwide.

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Liz Bolshaw

A new study shows that diversity has flatlined in America’s largest companies.

Catalyst, a US-based think-tank,  tracks the composition of supervisory boards, executive teams and high earners in Fortune 500 companies to give an annual snapshot of diversity progress in some of the world’s largest and best-known organisations.

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Liz Bolshaw

A recent study by Washington-based Corporate Women Directors International shows the impact of quotas on increasing the diversity of company boards in Europe. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

Had her family circumstances been different, Monique Leroux might have been a concert pianist. Instead, she is the first woman to be elected chairwoman, president and chief executive of Desjardins Group, Canada’s largest – and the world’s sixth largest – credit union, or co-operative financial group. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

US-based membership organisation Women Corporate Directors (WCD) yesterday announced the winners of its 2012 WCD Awards. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

“We are good at looking at what potential looks like – this man, this woman has got the right stuff. We are also good at identifying traits and behaviours that make good leaders. But we are less good at identifying the experiences, the key job assignments that a career needs to have.”

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Liz Bolshaw

 It is the International Year of Chemistry, as I expect you know, and 100 years since Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

A new report from Ernst & Young, published this week, brings together a wide range of data and adds new insight into the potential of women in Africa to boost economic growth, increase levels of education and improve standards of governance in public life. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

It is not the first time that the diversity debate has moved from the executive to the owners of the UK’s largest companies, but this week’s launch of an investor action group adds muscle to that discussion. (more…)

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