“I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s chairman of the board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward,” Carol Bartz wrote to Yahoo staff on Tuesday night to inform them of her sudden departure as chief executive.
While Bartz’s contract still had 16 months left to run, which suggests she will leave with generous severance pay, her exit has not come as a surprise to Silicon Valley insiders.
First, the good news. The Chartered Management Institute’s yearly salary survey published on Wednesday shows that junior female executives in the UK are earning as much as their male counterparts for the first time in the survey’s 38-year history.
Now, the bad news. Looking at the overall picture of 34,158 executives surveyed (including directors), men continue to be paid almost a third more than women doing the same jobs – and the gap is slightly wider than last year.
Executive coaching companies are keen publishers of their insights, and my bookshelf of titles on women at the top includes a good few. Usually I do not blog about them, and believe me, you should be grateful.
But last week I came across a book that should be read by any aspiring career woman (or man). Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power, by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath and Mary Davis Holt, distils the experience of the authors’ decades of coaching experience and their careers at senior levels of large companies.
Laura Yecies’ CV lists degrees from Harvard, Georgetown and Dartmouth. She has run divisions at companies such as Yahoo and Netscape, and she is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and French. But, she says, proving she was worthy of a chief executive seat in Silicon Valley was no easy task.
What started as a series of informal social gatherings among the high-ranking women at State Street, the Boston-based financial services provider, has become a fully fledged effort to develop and promote female managers.
What is the going rate for a FTSE 100 chief executive today?
Angela Ahrendts, chief executive of Burberry, the luxury goods company, has again been in the firing line about her compensation. The furore follows an announcement that the company has offered her 500,000 shares – worth about £7.3m ($11.7m) at the current share price – if she remains in her post until 2016.
As Anthony Weiner, a New York congressman, broke down in tears in front of the international press, apologising for sending close-ups of his bared torso and Y-fronted crotch to women over the internet, he joined a distinguished group of prominent men who have found sex and power uneasy bedfellows – so to speak.
To the amazement of their sponsors and supporters, women around the world often say no to promotions. Why? Because promotions can be rather risky opportunities – chances that Cinderella would never have taken.
Here is a theory. The birth of a daughter will do more to increase the diversity of her chief executive father’s company than any number of research findings or government directives.
Last week, the share price of Burberry, the luxury fashion company, scored a record high, and the company’s market capitalisation exceeded £5bn ($8.3bn), earning Angela Ahrendts, its chief executive, a maximum bonus of £1.8m.
While few could deny Ahrendts is doing a great job – albeit in the super-hot luxury sector, which is tipped this year to achieve double-digit growth – there are still murmurings about compensation.