Women are on track to gain a record number of board seats by year's end, the Wall Street Journal reports.
From January to May, women made up 31 percent of new board directors at 3,000 of the largest publicly traded U.S. companies, according to a data analysis by corporate governance firm Institutional Shareholder Services. That's the highest percentage of female board seats in at least a decade.
Some notable 2018 board selections include those made by collaboration platform Slack, which appointed Edith Cooper to its board in February, and beauty company Estée Lauder, which added two female board members in April for a total of eight women on its 17-person board.
This increase in female board representation shouldn't be all too surprising, given a growing body of research showing that diverse boards improve business performance, as well as the gender inequality issues that have plagued companies over the last year.
In August, a 10-page manifesto by a former Google employee sparked national outrage and brought the opposition women face in the male-dominated tech industry into the spotlight once again.
Months later, women galvanized to share their experiences dealing with workplace sexual harassment. The ensuing #MeToo movement led to the toppling of prominent businessmen like Steve Wynn, the founder of Wynn Resorts. In April, the hotel chain added three women to it's board in an effort to refresh the brand after Wynn resigned as CEO and chairman.
Companies are also feeling pressure to diversify their boards from large investment firms, who see a positive correlation between diverse board selection and greater financial returns.
BlackRock, which has taken an increasingly activist approach to how the company does business, recently urged its portfolio companies to up the number of women on their boards.
"We would normally expect to see at least two women directors on every board," the financial behemoth said in a set of proxy voting guidelines published to its website in February.
The effectiveness of these investor demands can be seen with Amazon, whose leadership has historically lacked female representation. In April, the retail giant pledged to include women and minority candidates in their board candidacy pool, following shareholder complaint.
But it's not all good news. The ISS data found that companies have not promoted women at the same rate into leadership board positions, even though they come in with greater qualifications than their male counterparts.
"OUR PROGRESS ON GETTING MORE WOMEN ON BOARDS HAS BEEN SLUGGISH AT BEST."-Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest CEO and co-founder
Even more troubling, about a dozen of the largest U.S. companies have yet to add even a single female director to their board, according to a previously reported analysis by Equilar and CNBC.
To combat statistics like these, some are pushing for quota systems that would require equal gender representation on boards. A number of European countries have already adopted this strategy for company boards, including Germany, Norway and France.
But these mandatory targets have yet to catch on in the U.S. Some states have adopted nonbinding resolutions, pushing companies to diversify their leadership teams. The California state legislature is considering a bill which requires that publicly-held corporations add at least one woman to their board.
In a CB Insights panel on Thursday, Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck said that while she has opposed gender-related quotas, she might one day change her mind, and feels they're "underrated."
"Our progress on getting more women on boards has been sluggish at best, despite all the research that shows it can drive superior performance," she tells CNBC Make It. "So at some point, it may make sense to acknowledge that what we're doing now simply isn't working."
Trust the Process: What the Sixers have in Common with Successful Business Leaders (Philadelphia Business Journal, June 2018)
Three years ago on NBA draft day, we wrote an article about the Sixers’ strategy to win the long game. The struggling team found themselves mired in nearly a decade-long period of lousy performance. However, over the course of this near-historic losing skid, leaders of the Sixers organization remained immune to short-term pressure for quick fixes, and laid out a bold plan with long-term strategic intent. Three years later, in the midst of executing drastic transformation, the Sixers are now a winning team and a legitimate NBA-title contender.
Our research at Heidrick Consulting has documented the capabilities of winning organizations and their recipes for success. There are close comparisons that can be drawn between the 76ers and the world’s best companies that we deem “superaccelerators.” Namely, both the Sixers and superaccelerating organizations, such as Alphabet, Celgene, Comcast, and Visa, have demonstrated an exceptional ability to mobilize, execute, and transform with agility.
They Overcame the “Valley of Despair” with a Clear Purpose (Mobilize)
In a volatile and hyper-competitive environment, organizations and teams need to adapt and institute internal change. There is a robust empirical phenomenon termed the “Valley of Despair.” During organizational change, performance typically declines before it improves. When performance reaches a low point, there is a sense of fear and doubt that pervades organizations. At this point, many employees may disconnect from the change, causing the organization to fail – unless there is a clear and compelling North Star. The North Star will give the organization will to stay the course and survive the inevitable valleys of despair that accompany change initiatives. The Valley of Despair can be seen both in the history of businesses and in the 76ers’ quest to rebuild.
Three years ago, the Sixers finished with 18 regular season wins, making them the third-losingest team in the NBA. Things got worse before they got better. The next season, the Sixers won 10 games, putting them dead last in the league, and nearly setting an NBA record for futility. But in the midst of poor performance, meager crowds, and General Manager Sam Hinkie’s departure, the Sixers organization held a clear North Star, utilizing their young talent and draft picks to make them an NBA title contender. They continued to take a patient approach to the injuries of key players such as Joel Embiid, and stockpile draft picks that would produce 2018 Rookie of the Year nominee Ben Simmons. They took calculated risks, such as trading their 2014 1st round draft pick for Dario Saric, who was playing in Turkey at the time. Now the Sixers’ vision is starting to pay off. This year, the Sixers finished with the fifth best record in the NBA.
They Put the Right People in the Right Roles (Execute)
Organizations develop winning capabilities through great talent-development processes. Execution implies making difficult decisions on individuals who are not the right fit for the role and organizational culture. Such critical decision-making should be exercised for all levels of the organization – from front-line talent to upper management and executives. The Sixers invested considerable time and capital in finding the right players for the right roles. In 2017, they invested $148 million in Embiid’s new contract as their franchise center. Shortly after, they traded former 1st round pick Jahlil Okafor after a growing list of off-court issues and disputes with coaches. This season, they invested in strong perimeter shooting through JJ Redick, and bolstering their bench talent. And in the offseason, after concerns that General Manager Bryan Colangelo leaked sensitive information about his players, the 76ers have accepted Colangelo’s resignation in favor of a replacement who will have better relationships and trust with players and fans. The Sixers’ ownership has demonstrated an ability to make tough calls and remain resilient in the face of adversity.
They Drive Innovation and Model an Entrepreneurial Spirit (Transform)
Winning organizations challenge the status quo. Leaders within these organizations should encourage and drive experimentation to reinvent their businesses ahead of the competition. Transformation implies breaking with tradition and internal fiefdoms, rethinking the way things are done, and embracing innovation. This requires a culture of disruptive thinking, idea generation, experimentation, and rapid adoption.
The 76ers were named to Fast Company’s 2018 “Most Innovative Companies” list due to their breakthroughs off-the-court. The Sixers’ new, state-of-the-art Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey is unparalleled in size and scope in the NBA. The Sixers also provide their players with a premier nutrition program that surpasses that of many of their NBA competitors. They hired an executive chef, JaeHee Cho a former sous chef at Parc – a high-profile Philadelphia French restaurant – who created a restaurant-quality menu serving the nutritional needs of top athletes.
They Maintained Optionality while Executing their Strategy (Agility)
Too often, leaders and organizations become entrapped in the frame of binary decision-making. Strategic thinkers insist on surfacing multiple options at the outset and do not prematurely become locked into go/no-go decisions. Winning organizations can pivot their strategies in the event of unforeseen change.
While executing in their quest to build a championship-caliber team, the Sixers maintained salary cap flexibility and a healthy stock of draft picks. Before the start of the 2017-18 season, the Sixers were able to sign Redick for a one-year, $23 million deal. Redick was instrumental in helping the Sixers make the playoffs, with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and mentor young players. The Sixers’ current payroll structure has positioned them as a viable suitor for LeBron James’s free-agency, and also a potential acquirer of Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. Furthermore, the Sixers own six draft picks in this year’s draft, with one of those picks being the 10th overall pick from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sixers are modeling the disciplines of strategic leaders and winning organizations. In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, the 76ers have demonstrated many of the 13 drive factors that our research has proven to differentiate the best-performing companies from the status-quo. And although the current generation of players and management have yet to produce an NBA title, the Sixers opened Las Vegas bets with the best odds in the Eastern Conference to win the 2019 NBA Finals. Regardless of their fortune and our own fandom, the Sixers represent a paradigm from which businesses can learn.
Some of the concepts and examples in this article were adapted from “Winning the Long Game: How Strategic Leaders Shape the Future” by Steven Krupp and Paul J.H. Schoemaker (PublicAffairs, 2014) and “Accelerating Performance: How Organizations Can Mobilize, Execute, and Transform with Agility” by Colin Price and Sharon Toye (Wiley, 2017).
How can women’s sports become mainstream?
While it’s never been a better time to be a female athlete, and participation in sport from women of all ages is on the rise, the one key area where we’re seriously lacking in is corporate investment. The most recent estimate of global corporate investment currently stands at 0.4% for women’s sports, with the majority of the rest of that figure going to the men.
This needs to change, and to achieve this we - that includes government, the media, people in business and you, dear reader - have to be pulling in the right direction. We have to educate potential investors and tell the story of the benefits of women sport better. Here’s my topline take on how.
1. We need to identify and empower female athletes - for the right reasons
The #WhatIf campaign by Women in Football, which launched last month, is a great start when it comes to empowering women’s sports for the right reasons. In a nutshell, businesses such as Betfair, Sky Sports and Barclays have pledged to invest in boosting the profile of women, working in the football industry.
#WhatIf also highlights how we need initiatives like this across the whole gamut of women’s sports, and for reasons that go beyond mere tokenism. These businesses have invested in the Women in Football initiative based on individual achievements and performance, not just their gender.
We need to start championing more sportswomen from a host of different sports because they excel at their game - like kickboxer Ruqsana Bequm and footballers like Sydney Leroux. Female sport stars can generate loyal and avid fanbases, so if we can boost their exposure, we can create a compelling desirable option for businesses to spend sponsorship money with them based on both the quality of their performance and their ability to generate engaged fans, beyond a token gesture.
2. We need to look beyond reach to attract more corporate investment
Sponsorship plays a big part in funding grassroots engagement in sports, and without it, most sports will struggle.
That 0.4% statistic is shocking to say the least, and it highlights the disparity between the growing interest surrounding sportswomen, and the lack of investment in championing them.
The key issue is that businesses look at men’s and women’s sports in the same way. It’s about how many eyeballs - in stadia and on TV’s - they can reach with their sponsorship money. This is disingenuous - while the popularity of women’s sports is on the increase, it’s never going to match the same number of viewers as its male counterparts.
This might be a bitter pill to swallow, but it shouldn’t matter that women’s sports attract fewer viewers. The point is that backing female sports goes beyond how many people see your logo on TV; it’s much more about who’s watching and engaging with the game and how they subsequently feel about the backing a particular business gives to that sport. Brands such as SSE, Vitality and Kia, who are already engaged with women’s games, have spoken about how they’re viewed in a positive light from audiences at games, which has turned into increased brand-love and affinity.
3. We need to sell women’s sport on the basis of engagement and participation
One of the main reasons for the groundswell of interest around women’s sports lies in the fact that they’re viewed as being more inclusive. Men’s football and rugby games are a pleasure to watch. But fans can be too loud and/or rude for families, who don’t appreciate their kids learning a lexicon of swear words to tell the ref he’s made a bad decision.
That’s partly why we’re seeing more families attend female sporting events. They’re slowly becoming the natural home for family audiences, and they may even succeed in bringing on board people who wouldn’t naturally watch sport.
But not only do these games attract a different audience, and therefore, different brands backing them, female athletes have also been shown to appeal to fans in different ways. They’re seen as more likeable and appealing - for example, during this year’s Winter Olympics, a study found that Team USA’s sportswomen drove more social media engagements per athlete than the sportsmen.
So while it’s never been a better time to be a female athlete, the commercial future can be much brighter. Women’s sports deserves to be in the mainstream. But it’s only through continued investment - which we can achieve if we market female sports in the right way, by focusing on the above three points - that we’ll keep growing the female game, and continue to raise the bar.
Greetings to President Beilock, Barnard faculty, trustees, and honorees: Katherine Johnson, Anna Quindlen, and Rhea Suh.
And to each of the 619 bad-ass women of the Barnard graduating class of 2018: Congratulations!
Doesn’t it feel like the second you figure anything out in life, it ends and you’re forced to start all over again?
Experts call these times of life “transitions.” I call them terrifying.
I went through a terrifying transition recently when I retired from soccer.
The world tries to distract us from our fear during these transitions by creating fancy ceremonies for us. This graduation is your fancy ceremony. Mine was the ESPYs, a nationally televised sports award show. I had to get dressed up for that just like you got dressed up for this, but they sent me a really expensive fancy stylist. It doesn’t look like you all got one. Sorry about that.
So it went like this: ESPN called and told me they were going to honor me with their inaugural icon award. I was humbled, of course, to be regarded as an icon. Did I mention that I’m an icon?
I received my award along with two other incredible athletes: basketball’s Kobe Bryant and football’s Peyton Manning. We all stood on stage together and watched highlights of our careers with the cameras rolling and the fans cheering—and I looked around and had a moment of awe. I felt so grateful to be there—included in the company of Kobe and Peyton. I had a momentary feeling of having arrived: like we women had finally made it.
Then the applause ended and it was time for the three of us to exit stage left. And as I watched those men walk off the stage, it dawned on me that the three of us were stepping away into very different futures.
Each of us, Kobe, Peyton and I—we made the same sacrifices, we shed the same amount of blood sweat and tears, we’d left it all on the field for decades with the same ferocity, talent and commitment—but our retirements wouldn’t be the same at all. Because Kobe and Peyton walked away from their careers with something I didn’t have: enormous bank accounts. Because of that they had something else I didn’t have: freedom. Their hustling days were over; mine were just beginning.
Later that night, back in my hotel room, I laid in bed and thought: this isn’t just about me, and this isn’t just about soccer.
We talk a lot about the pay gap. We talk about how we U.S. women overall still earn only 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and black women make only 63 cents, while Latinas make 54 cents. What we need to talk about more is the aggregate and compounding effects of the pay gap on women’s lives. Over time, the pay gap means women are able to invest less and save less so they have to work longer. When we talk about what the pay gap costs us, let's be clear. It costs us our very lives.
And it hit me that I’d spent most of my time during my career the same way I'd spent my time on that ESPYs stage. Just feeling grateful. Grateful to be one of the only women to have a seat at the table. I was so grateful to receive any respect at all for myself that I often missed opportunities to demand equality for all of us.
But as you know, women of Barnard—CHANGE. IS. HERE.
Women have learned that we can be grateful for what we have while also demanding what we deserve.
Like all little girls, I was taught to be grateful. I was taught to keep my head down, stay on the path, and get my job done. I was freaking Little Red Riding Hood.
You know the fairy tale: It’s just one iteration of the warning stories girls are told the world over. Little Red Riding Hood heads off through the woods and is given strict instructions: Stay on the path. Don’t talk to anybody. Keep your head down hidden underneath your Handmaid’s Tale cape.
And she does… at first. But then she dares to get a little curious and she ventures off the path. That’s of course when she encounters the Big Bad Wolf and all hell breaks loose. The message is clear: Don’t be curious, don’t make trouble, don’t say too much or BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.
I stayed on the path out of fear, not of being eaten by a wolf, but of being cut, being benched, losing my paycheck.
If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing it would be this:
“Abby, you were never Little Red Riding Hood; you were always the wolf.”
So when I was entrusted with the honor of speaking here today, I decided that the most important thing for me to say to you is this:
BARNARD WOMEN—CLASS OF 2018—WE. ARE. THE. WOLVES.
In 1995, around the year of your birth, wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone National Park after being absent for seventy years.
In those years, the number of deer had skyrocketed because they were unchallenged, alone at the top of the food chain. They grazed away and reduced the vegetation, so much that the river banks were eroding.
Once the wolves arrived, they thinned out the deer through hunting. But more significantly, their presence changed the behavior of the deer. Wisely, the deer started avoiding the valleys, and the vegetation in those places regenerated. Trees quintupled in just six years. Birds and beavers started moving in. The river dams the beavers built provided habitats for otters and ducks and fish. The animal ecosystem regenerated. But that wasn’t all. The rivers actually changed as well. The plant regeneration stabilized the river banks so they stopped collapsing. The rivers steadied—all because of the wolves’ presence.
See what happened here?
The wolves, who were feared as a threat to the system, turned out to be its salvation.
Barnard women, are you picking up what I’m laying down here?
Women are feared as a threat to our system—and we will also be our society’s salvation.
Our landscape is overrun with archaic ways of thinking about women, about people of color, about the “other,” about the rich and the poor, about the the powerful and the powerless—and these ways of thinking are destroying us.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
We will not Little Red Riding Hood our way through life. We will unite our pack, storm the valley together and change the whole bloody system.
Throughout my life, my pack has been my team.
Teams need a unifying structure, and the best way to create one collective heartbeat is to establish rules for your team to live by. It doesn’t matter what specific page you’re all on, just as long as you’re all on the same one.
Here are four rules I’ve used to unite my pack and lead them to gold.
Rule One: MAKE FAILURE YOUR FUEL
Here’s something the best athletes understand, but seems like a hard concept for non-athletes to grasp. Non-athletes don’t know what to do with the gift of failure. So they hide it, pretend it never happened, reject it outright—and they end up wasting it.
Listen: Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to be POWERED by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.
When I was on the Youth National Team, only dreaming of playing alongside Mia Hamm. You know her? Good. I had the opportunity to visit the National Team’s locker room. The thing that struck me most wasn’t my heroes' grass-stained cleats or their names and numbers hanging above their lockers—it was a picture. It was a picture that someone had taped next to the door so that It would be the last thing every player saw before she headed out to the training pitch.
You might guess it was a picture of their last big win, of them standing on a podium accepting gold medals—but it wasn’t. It was a picture of their longtime rival—the Norwegian national team—celebrating after having just beaten the USA in the 1995 World Cup.
In that locker room, I learned that in order to become my very best—on the pitch and off—I’d need to spend my life letting the feelings and lessons of failure transform into my power. Failure is fuel. Fuel is power.
Women, listen to me. We must embrace failure as our fuel instead of accepting it as our destruction.
As Michelle Obama recently said: "I wish that girls could fail as well as men do and be okay. Because let me tell you watching men fail up—it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating to see men blow it and win. And we hold ourselves to these crazy, crazy standards."
Wolf Pack: Fail up. Blow it, and win.
Rule Two: LEAD FROM THE BENCH
Imagine this: You’ve scored more goals than any human being on the planet—female or male. You’ve co-captained and led Team USA in almost every category for the past decade. And you and your coach sit down and decide together that you won’t be a starter in your last World Cup for Team USA.
So… that sucked.
You’ll feel benched sometimes, too. You’ll be passed over for the promotion, taken off the project—you might even find yourself holding a baby instead of a briefcase—watching your colleagues “get ahead.”
Here’s what’s important. You are allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life’s benched you. What you aren’t allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench.
During that last World Cup, my teammates told me that my presence, my support, my vocal and relentless belief in them from the bench is what gave them the confidence they needed to win us that championship.
If you’re not a leader on the bench, don’t call yourself a leader on the field. You’re either a leader everywhere or nowhere.
And by the way: the fiercest leading I’ve ever seen has been done between mother and child. Parenting is no bench. It just might be the big game.
Wolf Pack: Wherever you’re put, lead from there.
Rule Three: CHAMPION EACH OTHER
During every 90-minute soccer match there are a few magical moments when the ball actually hits the back of the net and a goal is scored. When this happens, it means that everything has come together perfectly—the perfect pass, the perfectly timed run, every player in the right place at exactly the right time: all of this culminating in a moment in which one player scores that goal.
What happens next on the field is what transforms a bunch of individual women into a team. Teammates from all over the field rush toward the goal scorer. It appears that we’re celebrating her: but what we’re REALLY celebrating is every player, every coach, every practice, every sprint, every doubt, and every failure that this one single goal represents.
You will not always be the goal scorer. And when you are not—you better be rushing toward her.
Women must champion each other. This can be difficult for us. Women have been pitted against each other since the beginning of time for that one seat at the table. Scarcity has been planted inside of us and among us. This scarcity is not our fault. But it is our problem. And it is within our power to create abundance for women where scarcity used to live.
As you go out into the world: Amplify each others’ voices. Demand seats for women, people of color and all marginalized people at every table where decisions are made. Call out each other’s wins and just like we do on the field: claim the success of one woman, as a collective success for all women.
Joy. Success. Power. These are not pies where a bigger slice for her means a smaller slice for you. These are infinite. In any revolution, the way to make something true starts with believing it is. Let’s claim infinite joy, success, and power—together.
Wolf Pack: Her Victory is your Victory. Celebrate it.
Rule Four: DEMAND THE BALL
When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to play with one of my heroes, Michelle Akers. She needed a place to train since there was not yet a women’s professional league. Michelle was tall like I am, built like I’d be built, and the most courageous soccer player I’d ever seen play. She personified every one of my dreams.
We were playing a small sided scrimmage—5 against 5. We were eighteen-year-olds and she was—Michelle Akers—a chiseled, thirty-year-old powerhouse. For the first three quarters of the game, she was taking it easy on us, coaching us, teaching us about spacing, timing and the tactics of the game.
By the fourth quarter, she realized that because of all of this coaching, her team was losing by three goals. In that moment, a light switched on inside of her.
She ran back to her own goalkeeper, stood one yard away from her, and screamed:
GIVE. ME. THE. EFFING. BALL.
And the goalkeeper gave her the effing ball.
And she took that ball and she dribbled through our entire effing team and she scored.
Now this game was winner’s keepers, so if you scored you got the ball back. So, as soon as Michelle scored, she ran back to her goalie, stood a yard away from her and screamed:
GIVE ME THE BALL.
The keeper did. And again she dribbled though us and scored. And then she did it again. And she took her team to victory.
Michelle Akers knew what her team needed from her at every moment of that game.
Don't forget that until the fourth quarter, leadership had required Michelle to help, support, and teach, but eventually leadership called her to demand the ball.
Women. At this moment in history leadership is calling us to say:
GIVE ME THE EFFING BALL.
GIVE ME THE EFFING JOB.
GIVE ME THE SAME PAY THAT THE GUY NEXT TO ME GETS.
GIVE ME THE PROMOTION.
GIVE ME THE MICROPHONE.
GIVE ME THE OVAL OFFICE.
GIVE ME THE RESPECT I’VE EARNED AND GIVE IT TO MY WOLF PACK TOO.
In closing, I want to leave you with the most important thing I’ve learned since leaving soccer.
When I retired, my sponsor Gatorade surprised me at a meeting with the plan for my send-off commercial. The message was this: Forget Me.
They’d nailed it. They knew I wanted my legacy to be ensuring the future success of the sport I’d dedicated my life to. If my name were forgotten, that would mean that the women who came behind me were breaking records, winning championships and pushing the game to new heights. When I shot that commercial I cried.
A year later, I found myself coaching my ten-year old daughter’s soccer team. I’d coached them all the way to the championship. (#Humblebrag.) One day I was warming the team up, doing a little shooting drill. I was telling them a story about when I retired. And one of those little girls looked up at me and said: “So what did you retire from?” And I looked down at her and I said, “SOCCER.” And she said, “Oh. Who did you play for?” And I said, “THE. UNITED. STATES. OF. AMERICA.” And she said, “Oh. Does that mean you know Alex Morgan?”
Be careful what you wish for, Barnard. They forgot me.
But that’s okay. Being forgotten in my retirement didn’t scare me. What scared me was losing the identity the game gave me. I defined myself as Abby Wambach, soccer player—the one who showed up and gave 100 percent to my team and fought alongside my wolf pack to make a better future for the next generation.
Without soccer who would I be?
A few months after retirement, I began creating my new life. I met Glennon and our three children and I became a wife, a mother, a business owner and an activist.
And you know who I am now? I’m still the same Abby. I still show up and give 100 percent—now to my new pack—and I still fight every day to make a better future for the next generation.
You see, soccer didn’t make me who I was. I brought who I was to soccer, and I get to bring who I am wherever I go. And guess what? So do you.
As you leave here today and everyday going forward: Don’t just ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” Ask yourself: “WHO do I want to be?” Because the most important thing I've learned is that what you do will never define you. Who you are always will.
And who you are—Barnard women—are the wolves.
Surrounding you today is your wolf pack. Look around.
Don’t lose each other.
Leave these sacred grounds united, storm the valleys together, and be our salvation.
The Power of Parity: Advancing women's equality in Asia Pacific (McKinsey Global Institute, April 2018)
Advancing women’s equality in the countries of Asia Pacific could add $4.5 trillion to their collective annual GDP in 2025, a 12 percent increase over the business-as-usual trajectory.
Asia Pacific is today arguably the most dynamic region in the world, a global engine of growth driven by productivity, investment, technology, and innovation. Women can help—and are helping—to power this engine, making vital contributions to sustaining and enhancing Asia’s growth and lifting more people out of poverty. Yet gaps remain large in many countries in the region on gender equality both in work and in society. From an economic perspective, trying to grow without enabling the full potential of women is like fighting with one hand tied behind one’s back.
Five potential areas to prioritize to improve gender parity in Asia Pacific
There has been progress towards gender parity Asia Pacific overall. But there is still much more to do. Now is the time to redouble efforts.
Advancing women’s equality in the countries of Asia Pacific could add $4.5 trillion to their collective GDP annually in 2025, a 12 percent increase over a business-as-usual GDP trajectory. This additional GDP would be equivalent to adding an economy the combined size of Germany and Austria each year.
All countries in Asia Pacific could boost growth by advancing women’s equality All countries in Asia Pacific could boost growth by advancing women’s equalityAll countries Asia Pacific would benefit from advancing women’s equality. In a best-in-region scenario in which each country matches the rate of progress of the fastest-improving country in its region, the largest absolute GDP opportunity is in China, at $2.6 trillion, a 13 percent increase over business-as-usual GDP. The largest relative GDP opportunity is in India, which could achieve an 18 percent increase over business-as-usual GDP, or $770 billion (Exhibit 1).
To achieve this significant boost to growth will require the region to tackle three economic levers: increase women’s labor-force participation rate, increase the number of paid hours women work (part-time versus full-time mix of jobs), and raise women’s productivity relative to men’s by adding more women to higher-productivity sectors. Of the total $4.5 trillion GDP opportunity, 58 percent would come from raising the female-to-male labor-force participation ratio, in line with the global average contribution. A further 17 percent of the GDP opportunity would come from increasing the number of paid hours women work, and the remaining 25 percent from more women working in higher-productivity sectors.
McKinsey Global Institute’s calculation is a supply-side estimate of the size of the additional GDP available from closing the gender gap in employment. We acknowledge that the supply-side approach needs to be accompanied by demand-side policies that could influence the ability to create jobs to absorb additional female workers and require investment. In addition, education and vocational training systems will need to keep pace with rapid technological changes that are altering the nature of work and creating new types of jobs.
There is no one Asia Pacific journey toward gender equality
In its 2015 original “power of parity” report, MGI established a strong link between gender equality in work and in society—the former is not achievable without the latter. MGI’s Gender Parity Score (GPS) uses 15 indicators of gender equality in work and society to measure the distance each country has traveled toward parity, which is set at 1.00. Overall, Asia Pacific has a GPS of 0.56, slightly below the global average of 0.61—both high levels of gender inequality (Exhibit 2).
The research examines Asia Pacific as a whole with a particular focus on seven countries: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore. On gender equality in work, the Philippines stands out for its progress, followed by New Zealand and Singapore. The six countries furthest from gender parity in work are Bangladesh, India, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, and South Korea. China does well on female labor-force participation but can improve its share of women in leadership—as can most countries in Asia. Gender inequality also remains high across the region in the sharing of unpaid care work.
On gender equality in society, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Singapore are ahead of most in the region on essential services such as education, maternal and reproductive health, financial and digital inclusion, and legal protection and political voice; countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan still have a considerable distance to travel. Achieving gender parity in digital and financial inclusion is a large opportunity in many South Asian and Southeast Asian countries. Physical security and autonomy remains a concern in many parts of the region—and globally.
Asia Pacific nations have made progress in the past decade, driven by a combination of economic development, government measures, technological change, market forces, and activism. Maternal mortality and gender gaps in education have declined in countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, and Nepal. Many countries have increased women’s labor-force participation, but participation has fallen in Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka, a trend that may be linked to rising household income.
Women are heavily underrepresented in leadership positions
Women’s relatively low representation in leadership positions—measured using the female-to-male ratio—is a global issue. Worldwide, slightly less than four women hold leadership positions for every ten men in business and politics. In Asia Pacific, there is only one woman in leadership positions for every four men. In some countries in East Asia, there are only 12 to 20 women leaders for every 100 men. This is a waste of talent that the region can ill afford, especially when many economies are aging, labor pools are eroding, and skills shortages are on the rise (Exhibit 3).
Most countries in Asia Pacific have female-to-male ratios of less than 0.5. Even in Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, three of the region’s more advanced economies, the gender imbalance is notable. The Philippines, a traditionally matriarchal society whose government has been proactive in narrowing gender gaps, is the country in the world nearest to gender parity. However, even there, only 15 percent of board members are women.
There has been progress in recent years. On average in the region, women’s representation on boards increased from 6 percent in 2011 to 13 percent in 2016 (Exhibit 4). This appears partly to reflect regulations and corporate policies instituted during this period. For instance, India has made it mandatory for companies to have at least one female director, and the Australian Securities Exchange Corporate Governance Council tracks gender diversity in its constituent companies. However, women’s representation on boards in Asia Pacific is still low compared with the average share in advanced economies of 28 percent.
The smaller share of women in company leadership isn’t all about the glass ceiling. The relative lack of women in the top positions in business has its roots far earlier in the talent pipeline that runs from enrollment in tertiary education to entry-level positions, middle management, and the boardroom. In the seven countries we highlight in this research, the share of women erodes the further they are along this pipeline, with different patterns and bottlenecks among countries.
A McKinsey survey found that by far the largest barrier to women moving into senior roles cited by executives—45 percent—was the “anytime, anywhere” performance model. The second biggest—cited by 32 percent of respondents—was the “double burden” of women holding down a job while looking after their families, particularly in societies where women are still expected to take sole responsibility for family and household duties. Third was an absence of female role models, followed by a lack of pro-family public policies and support, including childcare; 30 percent of respondents cited the latter factor.
Policy makers, companies, and nongovernmental organizations can consider prioritizing measures in five key areas
Mapping the road ahead, policy makers, companies, and nongovernmental organizations could consider prioritizing action in five areas. Each of them applies across the region to differing degrees. Some aspects, namely female labor-market participation, are crucial for securing the potential economic benefits identified in most countries. Others, including the role that digital technologies can play, offer an opportunity to raise economic participation and earning while potentially improving gender equality in society. The imperative to shift societal attitudes toward women’s role in society and work appears in virtually all countries and can enable—or hold back—progress on all other aspects of gender inequality. Some approaches are more suitable for the formal economy, others for the informal economy. Broadly, measures need to be tailored to the cultural and economic context of each country, based on decision makers’ judgment—and experience—of what will be most effective. In the research, MGI has explored specific priorities for each of the seven countries highlighted. The following five key areas for action have relevance to all countries in the region:
Time's' 2018 Most Influential People list has record number of women, people under 40 (April 2018, USA Today)
Time magazine unveiled its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world Thursday, including record numbers of 45 women and 45 people under the age of 40.
"The TIME 100, always a reflection of its moment, looks quite different than in the past," Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal wrote in a letter explaining how the magazine chose the 100 people on the list. "Influence increasingly knows no single zip code and no minimum age."
The magazine paired guest contributors to write about each of the 100 people on the list. Former president Barack Obama says he draws inspiration from the Parkland, Fla., shooting survivors turned activists who organized the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence.
“They have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom,” Obama wrote about Jaclyn Corin, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind. "The power to insist that America can be better."
Among the 45 women chosen were activist Tarana Burke, who founded Me Too and human rights activist Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, who has worked to end female genital mutilation in Kenya.
"While we remain much too far from gender parity in global leadership, there are more women than ever on this year’s TIME 100—proof that there are ways of changing the world beyond traditional power structures," Felsenthal wrote.
Six of the top 100 will be featured on covers of the magazine’s special issue, and include: Burke; tennis champion Roger Federer; comedian and actor Tiffany Haddish; actor Nicole Kidman; singer Jennifer Lopez; and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The list is not a measure of power or a collection of milestones but is instead, according to Felsenthal, "a designation of individuals whose time, in our estimation, is now."
Or, in other words: “Was this their year?”
WASHINGTON — Tuesday is “Equal Pay Day.”
It’s not a day of celebration, but more like a finish line for women. In 2018 women had to work, on average, until April 10 in order to earn as much money as men did by the last day of 2017.
Each year, women hope that the distance to our finish line will be shorter and that the gap between what men and women are paid will close a bit more.
Equal Pay Day reminds us of how far we’ve come, how far we have to go and the actions still needed to increase the earning power of our nation’s working women.
When looking at median annual salaries for each group, U.S. women are paid about 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. And the pay gap is even worse for women of color.
For significant change to occur, we believe more women need to assume leadership roles, especially by serving on corporate boards.
There’s proof that having more women in board positions yields benefits for an organization’s performance, and for society as a whole.
Statistics show there is plenty of potential for women to step into more board seats:
Boards of directors make decisions that can impact you, your community and the country.
These boards choose CEOs who then make decisions about compensation and other ways to spend profits, including how to support various social causes. That’s why we think there should be more female voices representing our viewpoints and interests.
In addition to societal advantages, research has shown that organizations themselves benefit from increasing diversity on their boards.
First, gender diversity in a company’s leadership tends to attract and motivate talented employees who want leadership that reflects the diversity of today’s talent pool.
Women are increasingly influencing spending decisions for their family’s wealth, so having women on a board provides more insight into the opinions and priorities of all consumers, not just males.
Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger, suggested to his board that having a more diverse group of leaders “helps you avoid blind spots” when making important corporate decisions.
For suggestions on how to improve your long-term financial security in the face of a pay gap, listen to Dawn’s WTOP 2017 Equal Pay Day interview.
What are strategies women can use to achieve a corporate board seat?
One of the reasons given for lower female representation in the boardroom is lack of sufficiently educated and qualified female talent. But statistics show women continue to earn advanced degrees at equal or higher rates than men.
The real issue is not education, but lack of relevant experience.
How then can women obtain the right qualifications to land a board position?
Our hope is that advocating for more representation for women on corporate boards will lead to stronger financial performance and higher pay for all employees, including women. Encouraging public companies to have a board that reflects the same diversity as their buying population is just one way everyone can make progress towards greater pay equality for all.
Dawn Doebler, CPA, CFP®, CDFA® is a senior wealth adviser at The Colony Group. She is also a co-founder of Her Wealth®.
Jennifer Conrad didn't have high expectations when she interviewed for a management position at the Leominster headquarters for Fidelity Bank. After all, she was seven-and-a-half-months pregnant.
"I felt like it was such a wasted effort," Conrad said. But "when I stepped out of the bank that day, I said, 'I need to be here.'"
She was hired. And a decade later, Conrad, Fidelity Bank's senior vice president and senior cash management officer, serves as an example of a company's culture prioritizing having women in executive positions in equal numbers as men.
"She was a very talented person and culturally aligned with how we treat our clients," said Ed Manzi, the Fidelity Bank CEO who hired Conrad and still leads the 10-branch bank. "It just seemed like the right thing to do."
With nine women among its top 16 executives, Fidelity Bank is an outlier in the Central Massachusetts business community, as only four of the 42 local for-profit companies examined by WBJ had at least 40 percent women among their senior executives and board members.
Fidelity Bank has seen its total deposits more than double in a decade to $659 million in 2016, and in the past year has grown through acquisitions of Barre Savings Bank and Colonial Co-operative Bank in Gardner.
This type of financial success is a common thread among businesses with greater gender diversity in their leadership.
Companies with women in at least 15 percent of senior management positions have 18-percent more profits than companies where women comprise less than 10 percent of those seats, according to a 2016 study by Swiss multinational financial institution Credit Suisse. The best performance was shown in companies where women make up half of senior leadership positions.
"You don't get a diverse lens of what's happening inside and outside your company" without diversity, said Susan Adams, a Bentley University professor who's conducted research for the women advocacy group The Boston Club.
"Women live different lives than men," Adams said. "They can see things differently."
Woman-led profitsCompanies with women in the top leadership position (i.e. CEOs) were shown in the Credit Suisse study to perform better than those led by men, with 19-percent better profits.
Among the 75 Central Massachusetts business organizations – including nonprofits – studied by WBJ, only nine led led by a woman, and none of those were public companies.
One of the most recent female publiccompany CEOs in Central Massachusetts was Carol Meyrowitz, who led TJX Cos. from 2007 to 2016.
The Framingham- and Marlborough-based owner of retail chains Marshalls, T.J.Maxx and HomeGoods touts relatively high levels of women throughout the business. Globally, 77 percent of TJX's workforce is female, as are 51 percent of assistant vice presidents.
In the past three years, women at TJX have earned 51 percent of promotions into senior vice president roles, 40 percent of promotions into vice president roles, and 58 percent of promotions into assistant vice president roles.
"At the board level and throughout the TJX organization, women are an important part of our workforce and represent an increasing percentage of our leadership team," Meyrowitz said in a statement.
TJX has been a force in retail at a time when many of its competitors have struggled against big box stores and online retailers like Amazon. From the budget year Meyrowitz's CEO term began through the latest budget year, the company's profit rose 161 percent to $2.3 billion, sales jumped 69 percent to $30.9 billion, and the store count rose by 51 percent to more than 3,800.
Meyrowitz said achieving goals at the company "relies to a great degree on our ability to continuously develop our next generation of leaders."
Female CEOs = gender diversityFemale-led companies have been found to have better gender diversity throughout their ranks, according to a 2017 report by Chicago-based executive leadership consulting firm Spencer Stuart. At female-led American businesses, 33 percent of directors are female. At male-led firms, that rate is 22 percent.
In Central Massachusetts, out of the 75 institutions examined by WBJ, the nine led by women have better records of appointing women to boards and executive offices. Their rate for boards is 43 percent, compared to 33 percent among all the organizations examined. Among executives, the rate is 57 percent at female-led entities compared to 36 percent among all.
Female business leaders also help companies in intangible ways.
Los Angeles-based executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry found last year in talking to 57 women CEOs at large national companies, female CEOs are more likely than male CEOs to be motivated by a sense of purpose and a belief their company could have a positive effect on the community and its employees.
New York City-based investment research firm MSCI in a 2015 study found fewer instances of governance-related controversies such as cases of fraud and shareholder battles at companies with better gender diversity.
Manzi, Fidelity Bank's CEO since 1997, said gender equality has never explicitly been the bank's objective.
"We didn't target a number," he said, adding of the qualified candidates the bank has chosen, "it just so happens that a lot of them are women."
On one wall in a Fidelity Bank meeting room is a message illustrating the bank's priorities with employees: "If you value the differences in people, the differences will provide value."
Female-inclusive firms remain the exceptionOf Central Massachusetts's 17 public companies, women make up only 8 percent of executive positions. Twelve of the 17 companies don't have a female senior executive, and half of those don't have a female board member.
"Biases and misconceptions continue to linger," said Danna Greenberg, a professor of organizational behavior at Babson College in Wellesley.
Female candidates generally need to push for themselves for consideration more than a man does, Greenberg said, and a woman who might be seen as pushy could cause a different reaction than a man would.
"Women need to figure out much earlier in their career how they balance that pushback from being a strong self-advocate," Greenberg said.
Women held fewer high-level positions decades ago because they were less likely to have college degrees, but that's changed.
Women make up a higher percentage of college graduates than ever, outnumbering men for the first time in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"They're very highly educated, which has changed," Adams said of female candidates for high-level jobs. "You couldn't say that 20 years ago. You probably couldn't even say that 15 years ago."
At Fidelity Bank, Conrad said she's seen an environment not typical in finance.
"In my 20 years in banking, I hate to use this term, but it can be seen as a boys' club," she said. "It's so refreshing to go to chamber events with more women representing companies. I'd like to see more. Who wouldn't?"
CORRECTION: This story has been changed to reflect that it was Fidelity Bank's deposits, not assets, that rose to $659 million.
I have spent many hours talking with colleagues in international development about how to tear down the barriers that block women’s progress around the world. Now, we’re confronting the fact that every sector, including our own, has a serious problem with sexual harassment and violence. The norms that allow these abuses are the same ones that disempower the poorest women, and only when they are dismantled across the globe will all women and girls be able to lead the lives they want.
Practically speaking, though, what can a philanthropic organization like ours do to promote a goal—equality everywhere—that’s impossibly large?
We’ve been investing in women’s health for a long time and seen significant progress. But as I spend more time visiting communities and meeting people around the world, I am convinced that we’ll never reach our goals if we don’t also address the systematic way that women and girls are undervalued. With a new focus on women’s economic empowerment, connecting women to markets, making sure they have access to financial services, and empowering them to help themselves, we aim to help tear down the barriers that keep half the world from leading a full life.
We’ll spend $170 million over the next four years to help women exercise their economic power, which the evidence suggests is among the most promising entry points for gender equality. Simply put when money flows into the hands of women who have the authority to use it, everything changes.
First, their families benefit. One in three married women in the poorest countries have no say over major household purchases. Research shows, however, that women are much more likely than men to buy things that set their families on a pathway out of poverty, like nutritious food, health care, and education. In Niger, for example, when women had more financial autonomy, their families ate more meat and fish. One of the most astonishing statistics I’ve seen is that when a mother has control over her family’s money, her children are 20% more likely to survive.
Second, everyone starts to re-think the part women can play in their own communities. A recent study in India found that merely owning and using a bank account led women to work outside the home more. As a result, they earned more money, but they also changed men’s perception of them. By defying a social norm that confined them inside, they started to change it.
Women acting on their own can do what all the philanthropic organizations in the world can never accomplish: change the unwritten rule that women are lesser than men. Our role, as we see it, is to make targeted investments that give women the opportunity to write new rules.
First, our new gender equality strategy will seek to link women to markets. Hundreds of millions of women help run small farms across Africa and Asia, raising crops and livestock, but in most cases, they do so without knowing what is a fair price for their products. We want to help them overcome this barrier and prosper from their labor. To do so, we’ll support women farmers as they organize in collectives that aggregate produce from small farms and sell it to buyers at a fair price and, where possible, use mobile phone applications that provide real-time price information.
We also want more women to use digital bank accounts. Many governments send welfare or safety net payments to low-income families, but this money is usually controlled by men. We will work on systems in eight countries, including India, Pakistan and Tanzania, to deposit it into accounts controlled by women.
Finally, we’ll support self-help groups where women and girls teach one another about everything from launching a small business to raising healthy children—and reimagine their standing in society. In India, the more than 75 million women who already belong to such groups have proven a force for real progress. We want younger girls to have the same opportunity. During adolescence, parents place more restrictions on their daughters, and girls’ range of movement shrinks—in South Africa, for example, by more than half. Self-help groups can widen their horizons.
I gained a valuable perspective on self-help groups when I spent an afternoon in Jharkhand, India, with Neelam Bhengra. She joined a group to learn how to increase the yields on her farm. But gradually, she organized the members to advocate for themselves with local government. “If I’m alone, I can’t do anything,” she told me. But with the support of her group, she said, “I will keep fighting for women until I die.”
Neelam is a force for generations to come. She told me all about her children, who were going to school and planning for a future Neelam herself never imagined. The data says that their children, Neelam’s grandchildren, will be even more healthy–and more prosperous. We want to help more Neelams find their voice, seize opportunities, and change their world—and their children’s world—into what they dream it can be.
1. The Mindful Giver
Hali Lee, 51, founder of the Asian Women Giving Circle and co-founder and co-executive director of Faces of Giving, dedicated to amplifying the power of philanthropy.
"In my mind's eye, I'm 28 years old, so the gift of now is that I have the energy and ideas of a younger person with the experience and insight of an older person. It's impossible to have everything, do everything, be everything. It is possible to do well enough, get by, try your hardest, be okay with the grays and the imperfects and to have a good enough time — dare I say fun — while doing so."
2. The Social Reformer
Sujatha Jesudason, 51, Professor of Management at the New School and founder and Executive Director of CoreAlign, a reproductive justice organization.
"At this age, I'm trying new things — what better time to risk it all? I just moved to New York City for the first time in my life. I'm the most impactful I've ever been in my work, and I'm also transitioning into the role of mentor. More of my energies are going into supporting other women, and in this political moment, that is powerful. We need to go all out."
3. The Breakthrough Researcher
Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, 66, a leader in contraceptive research and family planning services at New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center.
"When I turned 60 I thought, 'What would be worth accomplishing at work in the next 10 years?' and I chose to focus on enduring problems in the area of oral contraceptives, how to move those forward. In my 60s, I'm calmer and wiser, with a lot of history to draw on when issues arise — and I'm so grateful that the smart, idealistic young people I work with are not despairing even now. They're dynamite."
4. The Design Innovator
Ruth Lande Shuman, 74, founder of Publicolor, a not-for-profit organization using design projects to empower struggling students to realize their potential.
"Curiosity continues to imbue my work, which allows me to be flexible and responsive to new ideas. My age and experience mean that I can act as a mentor to young talent, which is enormously energizing! I am more patient, but I still have a sense of urgency around my work, and I want to keep growing Publicolor's impact, helping even more high-risk low-income students reach their potential."
5. The Founding Feminist
Marie Wilson, 77, founder of the White House Project, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and creator of Take Our Daughters to Work Day."It's hard for me to slow down, even now. What keeps people strong and healthy is the ability to make change — in their job, in their community or in their home. What's kept me sane is the continual ability to do something about what's wrong in the world — through the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the gay rights movement, and all the things we are struggling with right now. I get up every morning and I know there's something I can and must do."
6. The Cultural Curator
Nancy Spector, 58, Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum."At this point in my life I am able to be decisive and direct in my leadership but also still open and attuned to what is new, radical, and risky in my field. I am deeply committed to doing what I love, honing my curatorial skills, and looking for opportunities to use art to address the profound concerns of our time."
7. The Intrepid Advocate
Sayu Bhojwani, 50, founder and President ofNew American Leadersand author of People Like Us, about American democracy.
"As an immigrant woman of color, I represent so much that is under attack in this country today. Yet I have never been more sure of who I am and what I believe is possible here. That I continue to lean into my work at the intersection of immigration and politics is a testament for women like me to never shy away from the battle for our place at the table."
8. The Eco Protector
Deborah Goldberg, 63, Managing Attorney ofEarthjustice's, Northeast regional office.
"I work as an environmental lawyer and we are trying very hard to protect a healthy planet for all species. Right now I'm working to get New York State law to require cleaning products to disclose their list of ingredients so people aren't bringing home things that will make their families sick. These are difficult times, and at this age, I have a long view — I know that we need to stay hopeful and keep fighting."
9. The Scholar
Kimberlé Crenshaw, 58, renowned civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory at the UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School.
On intersectionality, a term she helped advance: "Without frames that allow us to see how social problems impact all the members of a targeted group, many will fall through the cracks of our [social justice] movements. When there's no name for a problem, you can't see a problem. When you can't see a problem, you can't solve it."
10. The Organizer
Heather Booth, 72, organizer for justice and democracy.
"It is a gift to be able to do the work building a better society where all people will be treated with dignity and respect. And at this age, I am grateful to have a little more confidence than I did earlier. We are in perilous and inspiring times. The stakes are so high, but often out of the greatest crisis comes the greatest progress. But only if we organize."