Nancy M. Carter, Senior Vice President, Research
Michael J. Chamberlain, Vice President, Brand Management & Events
Jan Combopiano, Vice President & Chief Knowledge Officer
Jennifer Daniel-Davidson, Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President, Finance, HR & Administration
Heather Foust-Cummings, Ph.D., Vice President, Research
Deborah Gillis, Chief Operating Officer
Katherine Giscombe, Ph.D., Vice President, Diverse Women & Inclusion Research
Areas of Expertise:
Projects & Campaigns
Reports & Resources
Advancing Women Leaders: The Connection Between Women Board Directors and Women Corporate Officers (2008). This research shows that the number of women on a company’s board of directors impacts the future of women in its senior leadership.
Advancing Women in Business: The Catalyst Guide to Best Practices from the Corporate Leaders (1998).
Women in Financial Services: The Word on the Street. This report on women in financial services shedes light on experiences, perceptions, and attitutudes of women in the industry and how they compare to those of male colleagues.
Women in Law: Making the Case. Catalyst's pioneering study of men's and women's career paths in the legal profession, Women in Law explores the obstascles to women's full integration into the legal profession. The report offers recommendations for legal employers on how to achieve strategic goals by retaining and developing women.
Child Care Centers: Quality Indicators (1993). A guide for assessing a child care center by adult-child ratios, group sizes, staff qualifications, the work environment, cost, and utilization.
Child Care in Corporate America: Model Programs (1993). An analysis of corporate-sponsored child care, issues pertaining to quality, a discussion with experts, and six model programs.
Corporate Women -- Employment Issues
Catalyst. June 7, 2013. Managers as Spnosors Toolkin Tool 7: Monitoring Your Progress-- A Sponsorship Tracker.
Catalyst. June 7, 2013. Managers as Sponsors Toolkit Tool 6: Consolidating Your Toolkit Responses—A Management Method.
Catalyst. June 17, 2013. Women CEOs and Heads of the Financial Post 500.
Catalyst. 2010. Making Mentoring Work. Written by Sarah Dinolfo, and Julie S. Nugent.
Catalyst. 2010. Making Mentoring Work—Business Case Framework . Writtent by Sarah Dinolfo, and Julie S. Nugent.
Catalyst. 2010. Making Mentoring Work—Sample Mentoring Scorecard. Written by Sarah Dinolfo, and Julie S. Nugent.
Catalyst. 2010. Making Mentoring Work—Sample Mentor and Mentee Career Development Action Plan. Written by Sarah Dinolfo, and Julie S. Nugent.
Catalyst. 2010. Making Mentoring Work—Formal Mentoring ROI Spreadsheet Tool. Written by Sarah Dinolfo, and Julie S. Nugent.
Catalyst 2009. 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors. Writtent by Heather Foust-Cummings and Emily Pomeroy.
Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Strategies for Success (1999). Case studies on how major corporations remove glass ceiling barriers.
Catalyst Census of Women Directors of the Fortune 500 (1998). Published annually since 1993, it lists the women who serve on Fortune 500 boards and how many women are on each company's board.
Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners (1998). An annual census showing how women rank among the highest paid executives, which companies and industries have the most female officers, and which states have the highest concentration of women at the top.
Closing the Gap: Women's Advancement in Corporate and Professional Canada (1998). Based on a survey of more than 400 high-level women and nearly 200 chief executives in Canada's largest corporations and professional firms, this study includes the varying perspectives of senior women and chief executives on what holds women back from the top.
Women in Corporate Leadership: Progress and Prospects (1996). A survey of top women managers offering testimony from the women who have made it, as well as the views of Fortune 1000 CEOs.
Knowing the Territory: Women in Sales (1995). Sales representatives, human resources professionals, and sales managers from major American companies discuss what sales organizations can do to attract, retain, and advance women.
The CEO View: Women on Corporate Boards (1995). America's Fortune 1000 CEOs discuss what they expect from female directors and offer insight into the written and unwritten criteria for board nomination.
Women on Corporate Boards: The Challenge of Change (1993). A report about female directors' backgrounds, their expectations of and experience on corporate boards, their feelings about advocacy for women's issues, and the ways in which they relate to female employees of companies on whose boards they serve.
Mentoring: A Guide to Corporate Programs and Practices (1993). A report describing how to identify and advance high-potential women, recruit and train new employees, and avoid common problems.
Creating Successful Mentoring Programs: A Catalyst Guide. This guide teaches you how to identify and advance high-potential women, recruit and train new employees, and avoid common pitfalls of formal mentoring programs. This recently updated report takes you step-by-step through implementing a formal mentoring program.
Women in Corporate Management: Model Programs for Development and Mobility (1991). A report on 17 Fortune 500 companies with exemplary programs for women and why these initiatives are successful.
Creating Women's Networks: A How-To Guide for Women and Companies. A guide to starting and sustaining women's workplace networks based on Catalyst's work.
On The Line: Women's Career Advancement. A report outlining barriers women face and recommending strategies for overcoming them, including examples of America's newest and most creative policies for helping women advance.
Women Entrepreneurs: Why Companies Lose Female Talent and What They Can Do About It (1998). A joint project with the National Foundation for Women Business Owners and The Committee of 200, it discusses the fact that women are starting new businesses at twice the rate of men.
Feminist Thought and Scholarship
The Catalyst Award: Setting the Standard for Women's Advancement. Details Catalyst Award winning initiatives from 1987 to 1997.
Science and Technology
Women in Engineering: An Untapped Resource (1992). Recommendations of what companies can do to attract, retain, and advance women engineers, including initiatives that address barriers, perceptions of male counterparts, and job satisfaction.
Women Scientists in Industry: A Winning Formula for Companies. A study identifying factors in the corporate culture that contribute to or impede the career advancement of women scientists.
Women of Color -- Corporate Women
Catalyst. 2009. Women of Color in U.S. Law Firms - Women of Color in Professional Services Series. Written by Deepali Bagati.
Women of Color in Corporate Management: Opportunities and Barriers (1999). The third part of the study that looks at women of color's expectations, experiences, and perceptions of corporate culture and how they affect the women's job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and intent to stay with the company.
Women of Color in Corporate Management: Dynamics of Career Advancement (1998). A discussion of what African-American, Asian-American, and Latina women perceive as barriers to advancement in corporate America. Read Catalyst's recommendations on what companies can do to retain and advance this important segment of their talent pool.
Women of Color in Corporate Management: A Statistical Picture (1997). A combination of census data and previously unpublished information from Catalyst's Women in Corporate Leadership study presents a demographic overview of women managers of color.
Catalyst. June 12, 2013. First Step: India Overview.
Work and Family
Catalyst. 2008. Making Change-Beyond Flexibility: Work-Life Effectiveness as an Organizational Tool for High Performance. Written by Lisa D'Annolfo Levey, Aimee Horowitz, and Meryle Mahrer Kaplan.
Two Careers, One Marriage: Making It Work in the Workplace (1998). Based on the responses of almost 1,000 dual-career earners and aimed at employers, this study describes the issues that mean the most to these couples.
A New Approach to Flexibility: Managing the Work/Time Equation (1997). An assessment of flexible work arrangements describes strategies and solutions.
Making Work Flexible: Policy to Practice (1996). A guide on helping organizations and managers implement and manage flexible work arrangements in corporations and professional firms.
Flexible Work Arrangements II: Succeeding with Part-Time Options (1993). Findings from the first longitudinal study of flexible work arrangements and their effect on employees' career growth.
The Corporate Guide to Parental Leaves (1992). A manual to help employers plan or update a cost-effective parental leave policy, created before the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 went into effect.
According to Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility:It's a Matter of Sustainability, a joint study between Catalyst and Harvard Business School, companies with more women board directors and corporate officers contributed significantly more charitable funds, on average, than companies with fewer or no women in senior roles.
They were awarded for their outstanding commitment to advancing women in Canadian business. This year marks the first time that Catalyst has awarded The Catalyst Canada Honours, which were developed in celebration of Catalyst Canada's tenth anniversary. This year's winners will be celebrated at The Catalyst Canada Honours dinner on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, at the Arcadian Court in Toronto.
Heather Foust-Cummings, Senior Director, Research, presents on Women in Technology: Maximizing Talent, Minimizing Barriers and discusses the role of affinity groups at the launch of the InterDigital Women's Initiative at company headquarters in King of Prussia, PA. The event is for InterDigital employees only.
Deborah Gillis, Vice President, North America, discusses findings from two reports, Unwritten Rules: Why Doing a Good Job Might Not Be Enough and Unwritten Rules: What You Don't Know Can Hurt Your Career, at the BMO Capital Markets networking session held at company headquarters in Toronto.
Catalyst Europe held a webinar entitled The New Math: Perspectives on Values-Based Management the second in its Live Q&A series. Cherie Anne B. Faiella, Office of the Chairman Accounts, and Mike Sills, Partner, Ernst & Young Ltd., serve as panelists. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK (January 21, 2010) — Catalyst announces that initiatives from Campbell Soup Company, Deloitte LLP, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and Telstra Corporation Limited are the recipients of the 2010 Catalyst Award, the annual award that honors exceptional initiatives from companies and firms that support and advance women in business. This year’s Award winners, representing a wide range of industries, cultures, and approaches, demonstrate the strong business case supporting women’s advancement to leadership.
“These initiatives exemplify our Catalyst vision –‘Changing workplaces. Changing lives’,” said Ilene H. Lang, President & Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst. “They impact the lives of employees, families, and communities by transforming organizations, and serve as models that inspire and encourage others to embrace inclusive workplaces that benefit women, men, and business.”
Catalyst Award-winning initiatives are evaluated in a rigorous year-long process against a robust set of criteria: business rationale, senior leadership support, accountability, communication, replicability, originality, and measurable results. This year’s Award winners include a company where women run the largest and most profitable businesses, a second-time Catalyst Award-winning company, a premiere Canadian bank that expanded its women’s initiative to benefit other diverse employee groups, and the first initiative from a leading Australian company. These Award-winning initiatives reflect best practices around diversity, inclusion, and advancement of women to leadership roles and positions of influence.
Campbell Soup’s initiative, Winning in the Marketplace, Winning in the Workplace, Winning With Women, has utilized employee engagement, knowledge sharing, and innovation to develop a culture of diversity and inclusion and support the company’s overall plan to transform its workplace and marketplace performance. It has achieved strong results: from 2005 to 2009, women in executive roles increased from 21 percent to 25 percent. In manufacturing roles, the percentage of women and women of color plant directors and managers increased from 14 percent to 21 percent, and from 1 percent to 3 percent, respectively.
Deloitte’s The Women’s Initiative: Living the Lattice, builds on the success of the Task Force of the Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women. The mission of the Women’s Initiative (WIN) is to drive marketplace growth and create a culture where the best talent chooses to work. It has fueled significant increases for women in leadership: women’s representation as partners, principals, and directors has risen from 6 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2009, and representation of women senior managers has increased from 23 percent to 36 percent in the same timeframe. In addition, the gender turnover gap decreased from 7 percent in 1995 to less than 1 percent during 2009. Deloitte reached an additional milestone in 2009 when it surpassed the 1,000 mark for U.S. women partners, principals, and directors.
RBC’s initiative, Client First Transformation, embeds diversity and inclusion (D&I) principles into its approach with employees, clients, and communities, reframing the company’s business strategy to be more client-focused and revitalizing its corporate culture. Among other significant business benefits, the initiative continues to generate solid increases for women across the company: building on a strong base, women in executive roles (executive vice presidents, senior vice presidents, and vice presidents) increased from 35 percent to 39 percent from 2005 to 2009, and women’s representation as corporate officers (senior vice president level and above) has grown from 27 percent to more than 30 percent during that same time period. Women in the high-potential talent pool increased from 31 percent to 43 percent, with 21 percent being visible minority women.
Telstra’s Next Generation Gender Diversity initiative uses an integrated approach to increase women’s representation at senior and pipeline levels and engage men as change agents, creating an inclusive culture of mentoring and networking. It has delivered solid increases for women leaders at Telstra and in the community: for women in the pipeline (general managers, area managers, and managers), total share of promotions grew steadily from 29 percent in 2006 to 41 percent in 2009. Representation of women on the CEO Leadership Team increased from 6 percent to 31 percent, and the number of women corporate officers has grown from 31 percent to 35 percent during that same time period.
Campbell Soup, Deloitte, RBC, and Telstra will present in-depth discussions on their initiatives at the 2010 Catalyst Awards Conference at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York on March 24, 2010. The conference, which is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company and Walmart, will feature keynote speaker Anne Mulcahy, Chairman of Xerox Corporation. In the evening, the 2010 Catalyst Awards Dinner, sponsored by PepsiCo, Inc. and Shell Oil Company, will be chaired by Jim Skinner, Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s Corporation. More than 70 CEOs and leaders of major corporations, firms, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations are expected to attend, along with more than 1,500 guests representing 250 national and global companies.
For complete descriptions of this year’s Catalyst Award-winning initiatives and previous Award winners, please visit www.catalyst.org. For more information about the 2010 Catalyst Awards Conference and Dinner, please contact Michael J. Chamberlain, 646-388-7770, email@example.com. For media inquiries, please contact Susan Nierenberg, 646-388-7744, firstname.lastname@example.org, Serena Fong, 646-388-7757, email@example.com, or Jeff Barth, 646-388-7725, firstname.lastname@example.org. For international media inquiries specifically, please contact Susan Nierenberg.
Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award.
ABOUT THE CATALYST AWARD
The Catalyst Award annually honors innovative approaches with proven results taken by organizations to address the recruitment, development, and advancement of all managerial women, including women of color. Catalyst’s rigorous, year-long examination of initiatives and their measurable results culminates in intensive on-site reviews at finalist organizations. By celebrating successful initiatives, Catalyst provides organizations with replicable models to help them create initiatives that are good for women and good for business.
ABOUT CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY
Campbell Soup Company is a global manufacturer and marketer of high-quality foods and simple meals, including soup, baked snacks, and healthy beverages. Founded in 1869, the company has a portfolio of market-leading brands, including "Campbell's," "Pepperidge Farm," "Arnott's," and "V8."
ABOUT DELOITTE LLP
Deloitte LLP is one of the nation’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services through 45,000 people in more than 90 cities. Known as an employer of choice, it views attracting, retaining and developing its people as a business imperative to serve clients and grow its business.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries operate under the master brand name RBC. We are Canada’s largest bank as measured by assets and market capitalization, one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies and among the largest banks in the world, as measured by market capitalization. We provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management services, insurance, corporate and investment banking and transaction processing services on a global basis. We employ approximately 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 18 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 53 other countries.
ABOUT TELSTRA CORPORATION LIMITED
Telstra is Australia's leading telecommunications and information services company, with one of the best known brands in the country. Telstra offers a full range of services and competes in all telecommunications markets throughout Australia, providing more than 9.0 million Australian fixed line and 10.2 million mobile services, including 6.3 million 3G services. Telstra provides basic access services to most homes and businesses in Australia; local and long distance telephone calls in Australia and international calls to and from Australia; mobile telecommunications services; broadband access and content; a comprehensive range of data and Internet services (including through Telstra BigPond®); management of business customers' IT and/or telecommunications services; wholesale services to other carriers, carriage service providers and ISPs; advertising, search and information services (through Sensis); and cable distribution services for FOXTEL's® cable subscription television services. Telstra's international businesses include CSL New World Mobility Group, TelstraClear Limited and Reach Ltd.
Women will succeed in business without special treatment, but organizations that create women-friendly environments are often more collaborative, flexible and adaptive to today’s relationship-oriented, network-run marketplace. They also make more money. A October 2007 Catalyst report found that Fortune 500 companies with more women on their boards outperformed those with the least by 53 percent. The organizations featured here have made engaging the female demographic a priority.
Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, operates a strong diversity and inclusion program and supports the advancement of women throughout its many locations.
Accenture offers a range of programs to its employees, including customized training and education programs such as Leading a Diverse Workforce and the Minority Leadership Development Program. In 2009, the company offered five training sessions in Developing High Performing Women.
Accenture also offers International Women’s Day events, which were conducted in more than 100 locations in 29 countries in 2009; The Accenture Women’s Network, a global online resource for its women around the globe, with local impact, which offers feature stories and discussion boards on topics ranging from work-life integration to stretch roles; and the Accenture Development Partnerships group, which offers employees the opportunity to contribute their time and skills to nonprofit organizations, NGOs, foundations and donor organizations operating in the development sector.
The company has been:
• Ranked among the Top 50 Companies Where Women Want to Work in 2007-2009 by the Times of London.
• Recognized by STPI Karnataka (Software Technology Parks of India) in 2008 for employing the highest percentage of women of any company in the IT industry.
• Included in Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers for the past seven years (2003-2009).
No. of employees: 177,000
Revenue (2008): $23.4 billion
Headquarters: Chicago and New York
Percentage of women: 36%
Percentage of women executives: 15%
Allstate Insurance Co.
Anise Wiley-Little, chief diversity officer at Allstate Insurance Co., said it all starts with the attraction of women. The company’s female representation, currently about 59 percent of the population, stems directly from activities intended to improve the work environment.
For instance, the effects of the recession prompted the organization to offer financial literacy information, provide information on personal budget management, reduce tuition costs for its day care center and increase scholarships and other programs that impact an employee’s work life. Each manager has the ability to negotiate flexibility, but programs like Home-Based Worker, which started last year, set the stage for creativity and paying attention to results, not the location where people physically work.
Wiley-Little said those sorts of things make Allstate an easier place for all people to work, but especially women because of the many things they juggle in their personal and work lives.
The benefits for Allstate include high levels of engaged women who subsequently have a great impact on the work and ultimately on the customer. Studies show that companies with more women in senior leadership and on boards perform better than companies that don’t have that diversity. At Allstate, almost 30 percent of external board members are women, and approximately 45 percent of the women in the employee population have managerial positions.
Allstate Insurance Co.
No. of employees: 38,000
Revenue (2008): $29.4 billion
Headquarters: Northbrook, Ill.
Percentage of women: 59%
Percentage of women executives: 33%
Baxter International Inc.
At Baxter International Inc., a global, diversified health care company, women play an important role in creating an inclusive environment.
“An inclusive organization ensures that company policies, programs, processes and systems support a culture of respect and enable all employees to work together effectively and achieve their career aspirations,” said Jeanne Mason, Baxter corporate vice president of human resources. “We all see things through our own personal lens. If everyone on the team has a similar lens, there’s a chance we’ll overlook an important perspective simply because it’s not represented on the team. The more inclusive and diverse the team, the better the overall output.”
In 2008, Baxter established a Global Inclusion Council, which provides thought leadership, guidance and support to enhance Baxter’s inclusive culture. Cheryl White, Baxter’s corporate vice president for quality, leads the group. She said it’s important for Baxter to have women in leadership positions to provide role models for the next generation of leaders in the organization.
“Employees see that it is possible for everyone to achieve their career aspirations without having to look and act the same,” White said.
In recognition of commitment to inclusion and diversity, Baxter received the Catalyst Award in 2009, which annually recognizes innovative programs that result in the recruitment, development and advancement of women. Also, Baxter was recently recognized by the Great Places to Work Institute as one of the 36 Best Companies for Women to Work in Mexico.
Baxter International Inc.
No. of employees: 48,500
Revenue (2008): $12.3 billion
Headquarters: Deerfield, Ill.
Percentage of women: 53%
Percentage of women executives: 33%
In the traditionally male-dominated industry of engineering and construction, CH2M Hill provides a model for leveraging female employees to achieve business success. CH2M Hill’s Constructing Pathways for Women Through Inclusion initiative utilizes the company’s inclusive workplace to accelerate women’s advancement. All employees receive the “Little Yellow Book,” a guide to the organization’s values, designed to support an environment in which diversity, openness and innovation thrive. Expectations for employee behavior, including diversity orientation, are explicit and defined as “work approaches” in the company’s performance management system.
Other important components of Constructing Pathways for Women Through Inclusion include regional women’s networks that provide local learning and mentoring opportunities; Women’s Leadership Summits deliver strategic learning opportunities to a cross section of women leaders; there are informal mentoring and networking opportunities; a formal succession planning process that ensures slates are diverse and include at least one woman or person of color; aggressive recruiting of women and people of color; and substantial involvement by the board of directors’ workforce and diversity committee in developing strategy and policy.
From Saturday's Globe and Mail, Published on Saturday, Jan. 09, 2010 12:00AM EST, Last updated on Monday, Jan. 11, 2010 7:43AM EST
It's hard not to feel wistful in 2010 when recalling the excitement of the early 1970s, when feminism was becoming mainstream, women were demanding greater equality, and many young people believed they were building a new world without the limits that had constrained many of their mothers and grandmothers.
In many respects, that 40-year-old optimism has been borne out. Women have flooded into universities, poured into the work force and have won critical battles in areas of non-discriminatory treatment and equal pay. But in other respects, women have good reason to be disappointed. While they have made great strides in four decades, they still remain a small minority in the narrower world of power and authority in society today.
Many women now in their sixties say this power gap is the greatest unfulfilled promise of the early feminist era. And they have rightly concluded it is a failing that Canada can no longer ignore, or complacently expect to correct itself.
In the business sector, women make up 47 per cent of Canada's work force, but fill just 17 per cent of corporate officer positions in Canada's 500 largest organizations, according to a 2009 analysis by the consulting group Catalyst. Those numbers are highest at Crown corporations (with 26 per cent female officers) and lowest at publicly traded companies (where 14 per cent of corporate officers are women). Women constitute 13 per cent of board directors in the same group of 500 companies.
In law, banking, academia and politics, the numbers are equally weak for the top tiers of workers in the most senior "power jobs."
In the House of Commons, for example, 22 per cent of MPs are women, up just marginally from the previous record of 21 per cent, set back in 1993. The three main political parties are led by men, and all of Canada's 10 provincial premiers are men, although the Premier of Nunavut, Eva Aariak, is a woman.
In capital markets - jobs at brokerage firms - women are still a small minority of the overall work force, and hold just 10 per cent of jobs at the managing director level or higher, based on Catalyst data from Canada's six largest financial institutions. In academia, one-quarter of deans at Canada's English-speaking universities were women, based on 2008 data - a quarter of them heading nursing and education faculties. And women account for 18 per cent of partners at law firms in Ontario, according to the Law Society of Upper Canada.
This is not to say that women have been unsuccessful in these professions. They have swelled the ranks of lawyers, doctors and small business entrepreneurs in Canada. But a significant proportion are opting to work in small firms where they can be their own bosses and carve out the flexibility they want. And whatever job satisfaction that brings, it nonetheless means a minority of women are in the running for the power jobs that ultimately wield the greatest sway over society and the economy.
Certainly some women - just like some men - don't pursue power jobs because they demand huge time commitments that come at the expense of their families. Others are not attracted to the cut and thrust of leadership, or simply don't want the burden of responsibility that it brings.
But that only explains a part of the huge gender imbalance at the top. There also remains a long-standing prejudice that woman aren't as capable of leadership as men - that they are too emotional, or their commitment is too divided between family and career, or that they lack the strength to make tough decisions.
Many senior leaders today are men, and have what psychologists call a natural selection bias toward people like themselves: typically younger men who remind them of themselves. The Canadian businesswoman Stella Thompson recently observed that the higher up people get in life, the more they seem to choose what is familiar and comfortable. It's not malicious or overt, she says, but a natural trait to gravitate toward people you can bond with most quickly because they require less "adaptation."
Others also argue informal networking still often favours men, whether it's a mutual interest in sports or an easier bonding over drinks at the bar after work. And as those working to boost the number of women on corporate boards report, personal networking remains the single most important factor in winning an appointment to a large corporate board. Senior corporate leaders still prefer "safe bets" who move in the same circles.
There is, however, reason for optimism. There have been improvements in women's numbers in most professions. And to the credit of many industry groups and employers, numerous projects have been launched to help advance women in accounting, law, capital markets and politics and on boards of directors.
But one single reform can trump all those incremental efforts. That happens when leaders - CEOs, board chairmen, political party leaders and others - personally commit themselves to hiring and promoting women. One CEO's dedicated efforts to compel change can do as much good as a raft of other initiatives with only lacklustre commitment behind them. Indeed, many senior women credit having a great CEO at a pivotal moment in their careers for getting them onto the elite path to the top.
Leaders can start by creating targets for their organizations - even voluntary ones - and by reiterating to staff as often as possible that they matter. Managers throughout an organization can be asked to make sure that women's names are included on lists of candidates for promotions. And executives can even tie an element of compensation or bonuses for managers to their success at boosting diversification.
These ideas will seem old-school, modest or even unnecessary at the most enlightened organizations, where women comprise a large proportion of management. But the statistics show these companies are still a minority, and others are clearly making no effort to consider diversification in their top ranks.
Women have come a long way in four decades, but the final "power" frontier is as important to conquer as all the others that have come before. Those who lead must take the responsibility to make change happen. They must adopt the issue as a personal challenge.
By WeNews Staff
Monday, January 4, 2010
Profiles of seven outstanding leaders dedicated to improving women's lives: Michael Dowd, Patricia Gruber, Ilene Lang, Ana Langer, Tonya Lewis Lee, Sarwat Malik and Maria Do Socorro Melo Brandao.
Once again, attorney Michael Dowd is in court, defending what many believe is indefensible: a woman accused of murdering her husband, a police officer, while he shaved. He's done it 25 times before, more than any other lawyer in the country. The judge in the case delivered a rare, and perhaps temporary, defeat to Dowd's client by ruling in December that Dowd couldn't enter psychiatric testimony that, after 25 years of abuse, his client was suffering from post-traumatic distress disorder at the time of the shooting.
Dowd says he had no real understanding of domestic violence when he got his first such case in 1979. A woman was on trial for killing her husband with a machete following years of abuse. Dowd says he kept getting postponements from the court to give him time to figure out how to approach the case. He sought to educate himself by meeting with a psychologist to discuss the issue, but he wasn't without skepticism.
"I was 38 and had been raised in New York in a male chauvinist environment," Dowd says, noting that his initial reaction to some of the explanation for domestic violence was that it was nonsense. The more he listened, however, the more he started to get it--and for the past 30 years, he's been an advocate for battered women charged with crimes.
The psychologist got him to see the "cornerstone of domestic violence is society's indifference to harm done to women. My whole view was changed," Dowd says. He broke ground with using what is now called the battered woman's defense to win the case.
In 1987, Dowd won a landmark case involving a Queens woman who had been charged the year before with second-degree murder in the smothering deaths of her two infants days after they were born in 1980 and 1982. Again, he relied on mental health experts to help him get a handle on what was unchartered legal territory. His client, a former pediatric nurse, was absolved of the charges based on his defense that she suffered from psychosis as a result of postpartum depression.
"It was the first time in New York that the insanity defense (based on postpartum depression) had ever been used, and the first time in New York that it had been used successfully," Dowd says.
Dowd went on to launch the Battered Women's Justice Center at Pace University in 1991 and served as its director until 1994, when he resumed practicing law. Now called the Women's Justice Center, the facility provides aid to battered women and trains lawyers to handle domestic violence cases, which they must take on a pro bono basis.
Dowd says the judge's decision in his latest case was "crippling," but such setbacks only motivate him to press on in the name of justice.
The "Nobel Prize for Women's Rights" is how the annual award given by Patricia Gruber and her husband, Peter, is thought of in the human rights community. Such a description is only fitting, as the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation is a major force in the global fight for women's equality.
Every year since 2003, the foundation has given a $500,000 prize to an individual and/or organization serving as outstanding advocates for women's rights. Activist Leymah Gbowee is one such person; she's been credited with organizing Christian and Muslim women to end the civil war in Liberia. Another laureate is Pinar Ilkkaracan, who pioneered reforms to anchor women's equality in the legal system and created a nationwide human rights program to enable women to exercise their rights in Turkey. The award to Ilkkaracan was split between her and her organization, Women for Women's Human Rights – New Ways. Gruber said the prize is often shared between a woman and an organization, explaining that women tend to work together.
A panel of luminaries in the field selects each year's recipient(s) from nominations received worldwide. Among current and former selection committee members are the Honorable Akua Kuenyehia of the International Criminal Court and Zainab Salbi of Women for Women International. Gruber says the recipients are chosen not just for their accomplishments, but for inspiring the movement of women's political, economic and social empowerment.
The foundation was established in 1993 and began its prize program in 2000. Besides the Women's Rights Prize, the Grubers present annual awards in the fields of cosmology, genetics, neuroscience and justice. Gruber explained that they chose those fields as ones of special importance today.
"The sciences have a lot to offer," says Gruber, a psychotherapist who previously worked at a clinic for women and children in California. But so do the human rights fields. "If you don't have women's participation and justice, you don't have the rule of law and you don't have a stable society. We thought, 'We've got 50 percent of the population--we can't leave them out'."
The combination of money and attention helps the recipients of the Gruber Women's Rights Prize make progress toward their goals and the ceremony itself connects activists from around the world.
"The initial concept of prizes had been individuals can make a difference, which is absolutely true. But in women's rights another emphasis is the importance of undertaking something as a group," says Gruber. "So many women are doing incredible work in women's rights. We're happy to be a part of that community."
As a trailblazer in the field of information technology, Ilene Lang, 66, was always concerned with opportunities for women's advancement in the business world. In 2003, she turned her avocation into a mission when she became president of Catalyst, a research and advisory organization working to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. She was named its chief executive officer in 2008.
As its leader, Lang works to ensure that the women of today don't experience the kinds of barriers she faced on her journey up the corporate ladder, which took her to the top of AltaVista Internet Software in 1996.
"In the early days of my career, gender bias was overt," Lang says, citing assumptions by managers and colleagues that she would not return from maternity leave to subtle treatment such as thinking that since she was married she didn't care about equal compensation.
Since she had few female role models to emulate while moving up the corporate ladder, she says she had to make her own way. "But women friends and colleagues," she adds, "were always supportive. We helped each other!"
Lang is now helping other women do the same, by working with corporations to change policies and practices that shortchange women. Over the last five decades, there has been significant progress. She says when Catalyst was founded in 1962, few women held managerial and professional positions; now they hold about 50 percent of such positions in the United States. But at the top there are still far too few women, she says: In 1962 there were no female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies; today there are only 15.
Throughout Lang's career, she mentored junior businesswomen, advised female entrepreneurs and served on corporate boards. She now sits on the Global Agenda Council on the Gender Gap at the World Economic Forum and is a member of the National Board Development Committee of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Even though women have made great strides in the business world, Lang says there's still a long way to go before women reach parity.
"Norway has legislated that 40 percent of all corporate board seats must be held by women. So has Spain. Canada, France, Italy and Australia are considering similar legislation. We are very slow in this country to legislate quotas," Lang says. "Yet old attitudes about a woman's place have not changed in many segments of our society."
Dr. Ana Langer stands at the intersection where women's rights and health meet. As an ardent advocate for women's health, she's on a mission to make maternal deaths a part of the past.
Langer's commitment to improving women's health can be traced back to the genocide in Europe during World War II, when her parents fled the Nazis in Austria. In their new homeland, Argentina, the family lived under an unstable government. But both parents, who were physicians, emphasized to their daughter that if she became a doctor herself, she should use her life's work to create social change.
Langer began her medical career in 1974 as a specialist in the care of newborns, especially those who were ill or premature. She quickly realized that in order for infants to be healthy, their mothers had to be healthy as well. This sparked her interest in public health and inspired her to work for policy changes that would positively impact the lives of women and their families.
"My interest in maternal health expanded to sexual and reproductive health and rights when I saw how interconnected these issues really are," Langer says. "Sometimes there are separate programs for family planning, sexual health and HIV, but it is critical to take a holistic approach to programming--with the woman at the center."
Langer's growing commitment to women's reproductive health coincided with a watershed agreement coming out of the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. That same year, Langer joined the Population Council, an international nonprofit research organization, as its regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean. She oversaw research and advocacy in areas such as maternal health, gender equality, HIV and AIDS and family planning, generating evidence that led to progressive policy changes. One result of these efforts was a change in a law that made emergency contraception available to all women in Mexico.
In 2005, Langer was appointed president of EngenderHealth, a leading international reproductive health organization working to improve the quality of health care in the world's poorest communities. One important part of EngenderHealth's approach is engaging men to change harmful behavior, promote maternal and reproductive health and prevent gender-based violence.
Langer's experience as a clinician has proven vital to understanding the health issues at stake for women and she knows what it will take to see real improvements.
"We've reached the tipping point. Right now, there is greater attention and resources for maternal health than ever before and we must this seize this momentum to make sustainable, positive changes in health and rights for women everywhere," she says.
Maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in the United States are in the top tier among developed nations, and African American women and infants are significantly more at-risk--regardless of income or education. Acclaimed author and children's television producer Tonya Lewis Lee has spent the past two years on a mission trying to change the health profile of pregnant women and their infants, with a special focus on African American lives.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that African-American women are three times more likely than any other ethnic group to lose their child before its first birthday, regardless of their level of education or income.
With a deep understanding that instilling healthy lifestyle habits in women at an early age is critical to improving maternal health, Lee helped create the Preconception Peer Educator Program in 2008 for college students and pioneered a youth-to-youth model to address the issue. The program is part of her work as the national spokesperson for "A Healthy Baby Starts With You," a campaign from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health that's dedicated to improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality rates.
The peer educators complete a 10-hour study curriculum, then return to their communities to speak at local high schools and produce a health fair. The groundbreaking program launched at Spelman College, Fisk University, Morgan State University, Lane College, LeMoyne Owen University and the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing.
"When I realized that the World Health Organization ranked the United States 29th in the world in infant mortality, I had to become involved," Lee says. "American children are dying at the rate of third-world countries. It's a shame, and it doesn't have to be that way if we educate the public on the problem and begin to work on eradicating some of the causes. The infant mortality rate is a marker for the health of a nation and I know that all of those babies lost to infant mortality are important resources lost to us all."
To give a face and voice to those impacted by the health of African American women and the resulting infant mortality rates, Lee produced and released "Crisis in the Crib--Saving Our Nation's Babies" in 2009. The documentary highlights participants in the Preconception Peer Educator Program and their grassroots work in Memphis, Tenn.--a city with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country.
"It is my hope that in the next three to five years we will begin to find the health disparity gap is closing and we can help researchers give us more insight into why we have this problem."
--Kimberly Seals Allers
Dr. Sarwat Malik is hoping to see the results of her efforts to empower Muslim women in her lifetime. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, she was told by her first oncologist she had a life expectancy of six months to a year. With her persistence and new advances in treatment, she now is stable and has a new life's ambition.
She made the Muslim Women's Fund her life's work in 2008, becoming co-founder and vice-chair after retiring from her Rochester, N.Y., internal medicine practice of 35 years.
"What inspires me is the energy I get from this work and the huge transformative potential for Muslim women globally," she says.
The fund, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, invests in strategic educational and economic microenterprise programs that support women in becoming fully empowered stakeholders and change agents in their societies.
Growing up in Pakistan, Malik studied medicine at the Fatima Jinnah Medical College, an all-women's medical school. She says it wasn't until she moved to the United States in 1966 that she realized Muslim women were marginalized. It was an article written by her husband, history professor Salahuddin Malik, and presented in academic circles during the late 1960s and early 1970s highlighting gender justice and the special status of Muslim women in the teachings of the Quran and Hadith that changed the direction of her life.
The paper and the ensuing discussion led her to the conclusion that cultural practices based on misogynistic misinterpretation of the faith prevented Muslim women from receiving the same level of rights, dignity, security and respect as their male counterparts.
"I felt this was a challenge. I wanted to make sure that women understood those rights," she says.
In 2006, after attending "Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality Conference" in New York, Malik and a group of other attendees got together to talk, and the core of what would become the Muslim Women's Fund was formed.
The fund collaborates with the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy to reform the curriculum in madrassas, or Islamic schools, in Pakistan. "The program includes secular education with a focus on human rights, gender rights, gender equality and non-violence," she says.
A pilot project was also launched in 2009, in conjunction with the Egyptian Association for Society Development, a Cairo-based nongovernmental organization, to eradicate female genital mutilation through a dual strategy: religious re-education and microenterprise incentive for the barbers and midwives who perform the practice. Malik says 90 percent of African people believe the cultural practice is mandated by their religion.
"I'd like to see every woman empowered in a way that she feels that she has dignity, respect, human rights and the desire to do something positive in the world."
Maria do Socorro Melo Brandao was five years old when her family left the impoverished state of Ceará in northeast Brazil to search for better opportunities in Rio de Janeiro, more than 1,000 miles south. But the life of a migrant family was difficult in 1966 and her parents struggled for years to secure even the most basic amenities.
"We lived in a wood shack above open sewage, and then in the basement of a house with no running water," Melo Brandao says.
The family moved between hillside favelas (squatter settlements) until Melo Brandao was 17, when her parents managed to buy a house in the City of God. The hardscrabble neighborhood would become synonymous with gang violence years later thanks to the eponymous 2002 movie. After graduating from high school in 1983, she worked as a typist for several years before gaining admission to a psychology program at Pedro II College of the Humanities--an ambitious career path for a woman of her circumstances.
In 2002, Melo Brandao helped found the Seed of Life Association of the City of God, a nonprofit organization whose cornerstone program aims to help women with little formal education. She believes that by harnessing their creative abilities, these women can improve their economic and psychological welfare. Participants learn to make clothes, jewelry and other household products--out of recycled, discarded or inexpensive materials--to be sold in markets around the city. In addition to income-generating skills, the organization also teaches women about drug prevention, sexual health and civic responsibility.
"Nowadays, women in (the) City of God know that if they want to, they can do a lot of different things," Melo Brandao says. "We've noticed small but fundamental transformations in their lives. They have higher self-esteem. They believe in themselves."
Despite being staffed entirely by volunteers, the Seed of Life Association of the City of God continues to turn out fresh initiatives. It runs an after-school program for 8- to 14-year-olds, offers computer courses to residents of all ages and provides orientation to mothers of public school students on issues pertaining to sexual health and citizenship.
"But we don't think only about women," Melo Brandao says. "We think about the family: the mother, the father and the children."
--Gabriel Ponce de Leon
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