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Clegg: Missing women in the corporate field

BY CHRIS CLEGG | JULY 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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Much has been made about the inequalities that women experience in the work place. They are, according to a 2013 White House report, earning 78 cents for every $1 that a man makes. It is not just cold hard cash that they are missing out on. 

“The pay gap goes beyond wages and is even greater when we look at workers’ full-time compensation package,” writes Betsey Stevenson, a member of the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisers. Even John Oliver from “Last Week Tonight” couldn’t help but notice the harsh way most employers treat maternity leave in this country. 

However, perhaps even more important than the pay gap and misapplication of maternity leave is the lack of representation women have in corporate America.  

A report released by the Catalyst Organization in April shows that, of the companies listed on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, fewer than 1 in 20 women occupy the position of CEO, while fewer than 1 in 5 hold board seats at those same companies. The statistics don’t get any less one-sided when you look at the Huffington Post’s analysis of the problem, either.

Of 37 NASDAQ 100 companies, according to the paper, only one woman is included on the board, while eight company’s boards are entirely male. Furthermore, of the 100 companies that the Huffington Post surveyed, the grand average of female board members was fewer than two per company.

While the ratio of female to male representation in corporate America has been, and continues to be, disproportionately in favor of men, it may be in the best interest of the aforementioned companies to change this, and here is why: As a 2013 Ernst and Young report shows, women are “the next emerging market in the world,” a market that is predicted to become “at least as significant as that of China and India.”

Additionally, according to the same report, the average return on equity was 16 percent higher for companies with a diverse corporate board compared with boards that were uniform. Granted, this statistic does not necessarily mean that the addition of a woman (or two) to one’s board is going to give the company that 16 percent jump in revenue. The financial success of boards with both men and women on them relative to single-sex ones, combined with women representing a very rapidly growing economy, demonstrates the importance of having female representation in corporations.
If not for financial reasons backed up by statistics, commonsensical reasons back this up by, well, common sense. The reason female representation is so important on a corporate board is the same reason the “two heads is better than one” argument works for simple problem-solving. While there are similarities between the two sexes, there are most certainly differences. 

The way we grow up, the way we decide to handle our problems, the way we adapt to environments, and the way we react to situations, it is all different, and these variations have the rare capability of manifesting themselves into diversity when you apply them to critical thinking. 

Problem-solving is about viewing and analyzing information in different ways in order to come up with the best possible solution, and no board can expect to do that by only utilizing one of the sexes. Creating a board that is diversified in terms of the sexes is just another way to strengthen the ability to troubleshoot as a company, much like how a board with a wide variety of races, religions, and incomes would.


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