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Celebrating its tenth year, ION is a national consortium and stakeholder organization whose mission is to increase the number of women appointed to corporate boards and to executive officer suite.

With 15 current Member Organizations representing more than 50 percent of the 26 million women in management and professional roles across the nation, ION is the only confederation of regional organizations in the US engaged in this work. To learn more about ION, go to

September / October 2014

Wanted to send this along before it got any longer! In this update, you'll find links to news clips, recent research releases, interviews with Pattie Sellers and Helena Morrissey, news on ION and its member organizations and more.

Julie Graber,

In the News
  • In Canada, Comply or Explain: seven Canadian provinces & two territories (to date) have signed on to a "comply or explain" requirement for gender diversity on corporate boards and for executive officers.
  • What Makes a Difference?  Beth Brooke-Marciniak summarizes E&Y research into factors contributing to gender diversity on boards on a global basis: a public sector that focuses attention on the issue, a private sector that commits to leading change & disclosure requirements that mandate more transparency.
  • Global Run-down: Matt Orsagh of the CFA Institute does a great job summarizing the global effort to improve gender diversity on boards.
  • Sign of Progress?: According to Institutional Shareholders Services, nearly 30% of corporate board nominees in S&P 500 in 2014 were women. Among the Russell 3000, they peg the percentage of nominees who were female at about 22%.  Interestingly, while the percentage of nominees who are women has shown improvement over the past five years, the percentage of seats held by women hasn't matched that increase.
  • Companies Who Get It: Spain's Jazztel has 4 women on their board (out of 9) & performs at the top of the country's stock index.  And in the UK, the staff of M&S Bank is 50% female, from top to bottom - and that's just for starters.
  • Speaking of the Glass Cliff: Strategy&'s Annual CEO survey shows female CEOs are more likely to be fired than the men.  
How's that "karma" working for you when it comes to your pay?
  • The dust had barely settled over the release of workforce diversity numbers by the tech companies over the summer when Microsoft's CEO suggested that women should "trust the system" and depend on good "karma" to help them achieve pay equity (at the Grace Hopper Celebration no less). 
Women: Like Men Only Cheaper
  • The good news is that it isn't only US CEOs who can make a misstep: an Australian tech CEO was quoted at a conference as saying that women are as good as men (as workers), only cheaper (with a presentation slide to reinforce it). 


  • Pattie Sellers, the woman behind the Fortune Most Powerful Women list, talks about her work and the changes she has seen since the first "most powerful" list in 1998.
  • Northwestern business school Dean Sally Blount thinks young women should start strong if they want to advance their careers; she tells them that their first job not about comfort, balance or mission.
  • GoDaddy's Blake Irving says it's time to let go of all the rationalizations for why there are so few women in tech & address the culture problem. (Who knew we'd ever quote someone from GoDaddy??)
  • Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club, discusses gender diversity on boards in the UK and how other countries are doing in comparison. (Bloomberg TV video: 6 minutes)

Op-Eds of Note

  • Why Paying for Manicures and Freezing Eggs isn't the Answer for Women at Work: Author Catherine Fox responds to news that some companies are now covering the cost of egg-freezing for their employees, suggesting that "the problem with manicures and perks to delay motherhood and [even] endorsing the idea women should play nicely is they are all looking in precisely the wrong place for change." The focus is still on fixing women, not the culture.  While she's at it, Fox calls out the use of merit to rationalize gender inequities as an "excuse [that] is well and truly past its use-by date."   
  • Women, You Don't Have to Be Loud to Be Good Leaders: Don't count out introverts when it comes to identifying leaders - Stephanie Buck says women shouldn't have to be loud to lead.

And ..

  • Gender Pay Gap & Long Hours: Chicken or Egg?: this is worth a read for this paragraph: "Do we really believe women are 18.2% less talented or qualified than men? Do women really work 18.2% less hard than men? Do women really just 'choose' lower paying fields and less senior posts? Or are men better supported in higher paying fields and more senior roles? Do we, collectively, limit what women can choose and undervalue women's work?"
  • Intent Ignored on SEC Disclosure Requirements:  Research by Aaron Dhir, visiting professor at Yale Law School, found that many companies have circumvented the SEC intent regarding board diversity disclosure by defining diversity as broadly as needed, including skills and experience. Dhir, who reviewed the proxy statements of the S&P 100, noted that the requirement may have  actually "made the situation worse by giving firms moral cover once they show that they have taken some form of diversity into account. There is no incentive for them to appoint more women and members of racial and ethnic minority groups.”
  • Where We Are Now: The 2014 Davies Report on the FTSE 100 was updated in October; this infographic summarizes its findings. The update captures the milestone reached over the summer when the last company in the FTSE 100 with an all-male board (Glencore) added its first female member.
  • Women, Men, Risk & Stress: Neuroscientists have found evidence that under stressful circumstances, women make less risky, more empathetic decisions than men. With the men in the study, more stress triggered more risk.
  • Undervaluing Team Skills: According to this study, women undervalue their team skills when working with men, giving themselves less credit than they are due. The article notes that this tendency does not bode well for women as they advance up the career ladder, where they are more likely to work in male-dominated teams.
  • Pitching is a Man's Job: The Diana Project discovered that all-male teams are more than four times as likely to receive venture capital funding as teams with even just one
  • How Women Impact the Work of the Board: We've heard the research that suggests that the presence of women directors on corporate boards moderates confidence re: merger gains and reduces the price paid for acquisitions. Now you can add this to the list: gender diversity on a board also reduces the likelihood of fraud as well as the market reaction to fraud that does occur.
  • How Important is Diversity? Depends on Who You Ask: The differences in the responses from women and men to this PwC study are worth noting: in their annual survey of corporate directors, PwC found that nearly twice as many women as men thought gender diversity (61% to 32%) & racial diversity (42% to 24%) on corporate boards were highly important. At the other end of the scale, 20% of the men but only 4% of the women deemed gender diversity "not very" important for their board.
  • Best Practices from the Conference Board: The conference released a report on best practices for increasing gender diversity on boards highlighting mentoring programs & Rooney Rule as alternatives to quotas.   (Let me know if you'd like the PDF on this one).

ION & Members in the News

  • The Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce (Women's Leadership Foundation) recognized six publicly traded companies in the state that are leading the way with at least three women on their boards. The recognition took place during the Chamber’s annual awards luncheon. Read more 
  • The Forum of Executive Women in Philadelphia released its 2014 census of women on boards & executives in the region; the study found only modest increases in both categories for the top 100 companies it included. There was more encouraging news for women in the board and CEO for nonprofit colleges & universities and health care systems in the region, which were included in the study for the first time this year. 
  • The Thirty Percent Coalition and CalSTRS make another push for more diversity on boards with letters to Russell 1000 companies with no women on their boards. The release mentions ION's most recent Russell 3000 census. 
  • ION released its second Annual Census of Women Board Directors and Executive Officers in the Russell 3000 companies in the US. 

New Book: No Ceiling, No Walls 

  • Susan Colantuono (CEO, Leading Women & Founder of the Women's Institute for Leadership at Bryant University) presents a leadership model that focuses on outcomes, self-confidence and bringing out the best in others. She argues that most women's leadership programs place too much focus on enhancing interpersonal skills and building self-confidence (the conventional wisdom) and not enough on the need to achieve extraordinary outcomes (the missing 33%). A slide summary of her main points is available here.

Et. Cetera

  • Similar to the Male Champions of Change, Australian CEOs signed up to be ambassadors for gender pay equity.  And have you heard about the "daughter water" campaign? 
  • The World Economic Forum's annual Global Gender Gap Report ranks the US 20th overall (out of 142 countries), driven by the economic participation & opportunity for women in our country. In the other categories, we don't fare as well:  on educational attainment, the US ranked 39th, health and survival: 62, and political empowerment: 54. The appendices of the report include a two-page summary for the US which shows the the indicators used in each category and the US results.
  • Crowdsourced Research on Women in Tech: the author of this article "crowdsourced" her research on reasons why women leave tech. Her findings included inadequate salaries & unsupportive work environments.
  • Interesting way to put it: Kirsten Gillibrand says it's not about "having" it all, it's about "doing" it all. "Having" according to Gillibrand, makes the juggling act sound akin to wanting dessert with your dinner - nice but not necessary.
  • What's missing at Lego? Women at the top (one), on the board (none). Their recent release of female "minifigs" as a limited edition doesn't bode well for seeing changes anytime soon.
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