Updates for the Week Ending August 22
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ION is a national consortium whose mission is to increase the number of women appointed to corporate boards and to executive officer positions. Representing the 28 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


Groupthink on the Boards of Energy Companies

  • Researchers from the University of Oxford examined the boards of six international oil companies, evaluating them for diversity across five factors: gender, age, tenure, nationality and degree of experience outside of the oil and gas industry. Boards with higher homogeneity were considered more at risk for groupthink & dysfunctional decision-making than boards with greater diversity. 

    Two US-based companies included in the analysis - Exxon Mobil and Chevron - were evaluated as "significantly below their peers" on diversity and more susceptible to groupthink than their international counterparts.

  • Also: Alberta Oil reported that Canadian oil and gas companies bring of the rear in terms of gender diversity (13.5%) among Canadian companies overall.

HP Appoints Diverse Boards to Post-Split Companies 

  • HP announced the board members for the two companies that will replace the single organization; both boards include four women & two African-Americans.

Proxy Access Proposals Up in 2015

  • Proxy access proposals have taken a big jump this year - from 15 in 2014 to more than 100 to date. This article credits the NYC Comptroller's Board Accountability Project as the key factor driving the increase.

CEO/Firm Reputation

  • This study of the relationship between a CEO's reputation and how a company is perceived included a supplementary report on the impact of the gender of the CEO.  Bottom line: a female CEO doesn't put a company at any disadvantage in terms of reputation. 
  • The study also found relatively low interest in the CEO job among North American and European executives surveyed for the study; North American execs were nearly twice as likely as their closest counterparts to say that they had no interest in the top job (page 7).  

Women Can Be Direct and Assertive Without the Negative Consequences

  • From Terry Barclay: researchers from VitalSmarts wanted to know if there were strategies women could use in the workplace that would allow them to be direct and assertive without suffering the negative consequences. They discovered that framing statements - "I know it's a risk for a woman to speak this directly" for example - could be used to negate the reactions women generally encounter - reactions that lead to women being perceived as less competent and less valuable.

Strategies for Ending All-Male Panels

  • The American Society for Microbiology has made great strides in ending the prevalence of all-male panels at their conferences. In 2011, 35% of their panel presentations were all-male; in 2015, only 4% of the panels were all-male. In addition, in 2011, women accounted for 25% of the speakers; by 2015, women were 49% of the speakers. 

    What drove the change? The association did three things: 1) they provided the program committee with data on the gender gap in speakers, 2) they recruited women to be conveners for sessions, and 3) they asked conveners to avoid all-male panels.

Op-Ed on Pay Transparency

  • In the wake of new CEO pay disclosure requirements from the SEC, this op-ed calls for more transparency from companies regarding their gender pay gap. What I found most interesting was the information the author included from PricewaterhouseCoopers in the UK.

    The UK division of PwC voluntarily disclosed its gender pay gap figures and determined that most of the gap was the result of fewer women in the top jobs. Instead of assuming that the usual explanations applied (women opt-out, men work harder, etc.), however, the company examined its promotion strategies and bonus patterns and decided that both favored men. One year later, the number of women promoted to partner more than doubled.

Complexity in Understanding Wage Gap

  • This examination of the wage gap looked at a range of factors - gender, age, race and ethnicity, education levels - in an attempt to determine which factor had the most impact on wage differences. Among its findings: holding constant for education, men, regardless of race, out-earn women (except for Asian women with bachelor's or advanced degrees). Also, contrary to the assertions of some, minority women are not earning premium salaries due to the competition for their employment. The earnings of African-American and Hispanic women put them at the bottom of the rankings at every education level.

Advice for Finding a Board Seat

  • This article outlining steps to take when looking for a board seat includes a very specific recommendation on the financial investment required to secure a board position (the author's focus is primarily private company boards). 

    "If you are seeking a board seat, you need to plan on spending over 300 hours a year in networking, and $7-15,000 over three years to build your network, educate yourself and find the right boards."

In the Wake of the Amazon "Exposé" 

  • Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz expresses regret over the culture found in many tech companies, which he says is "destroying the personal lives of [their] employees and getting nothing in return."


  • Apple boosts diversity in new hires but impact on overall numbers is negligible.
  • Impact investing with a focus on gender is ''a lens, not a limitation;'' it doesn't have to mean lower financial returns.
  • Study of changes in college majors during tough economic times found gendered patterns in winners & losers; during tough times, women were more likely to pursue degrees in male-dominated fields, and both genders sought degrees in career-oriented fields with higher/better long-run earning potential.
  • Men run this gender-equality club, and that's a good thing. The members say women's equality isn't just a ''women's issue.'' 
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