To begin, the NYT did a terrific article about the dominance of women in corporate governance. Different than the activist hedge fund managers that make the front pages, this group, is made up of almost exclusively women, is responsible for voting the proxies for trillions of dollars’ worth of stock. The article makes for fascinating reading and can be found here.
On the other side of the coin, a recent article noted the dearth of women actually running mutual funds. A puny 9.4% of American mutual fund managers are women – this number is shockingly low when compared to professions like medicine and law where women make up 30-35% of professionals. Outside the US, one in five managers is a woman, so why a chasm instead of a mere gap? If Wall Street is a meritocracy and studies have shown that adding women improves performance, what gives? The full article can be foundhere.
To follow on from the previous article, to get more women into senior positions, the pipeline process certainly needs improvement. The next article, from Forbes, discusses how diversity and inclusion efforts are broken and how they can be addressed. Hint: get rid of the separate programs and make it part of the firm’s central mission. The full article can be found here.
For both job seekers and hiring managers, note to self – step back and look at the language in a job description. A recent study notes that overly feminine or masculine language will have the effect of turning folks of the opposite sex off. Key words like exceptional, manage and superior had the effect of turning away female candidates while words like empathy, care and sympathetic were a turn-off to men. So why should we care? The study also found that job descriptions with gender neutral language not only brought in a range of more diverse candidates, job openings were filled 14 days faster on average. The full article may be found here.
Finally, the women’s march on Washington made the news because it is bringing up the issue of race –history has shown that women have traveled an incredibly rough road to achieve basic human rights and are still fighting to be seen as equals. Statistics demonstrate how much tougher that road has been and continues to be for women of color. Using the gender pay gap as an example, while women make 77 cents for every dollar that men do, African American women are paid 64 cents and Hispanic and Latina women were paid on 54 cents. Charts from Fortune illustrate the underrepresentation of minority women in both private firms and public service. There is a term for this – intersectionality – and you can read about it in more detail here. But here is the rub with all this – women make up 51% of the population, so how are we allowing ourselves to be discriminated against especially if there is power in numbers not to mention the purse? Maybe it is because we choose to focus on each other’s differences and not the shared path we have as women in this world. Respecting each other, honoring the different paths we choose to take and supporting one another as women would create a powerful voice.
Consider the Latin concept of “divide and conquer” as defined by Wikipedia, and I quote “in politics and sociology (it) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures, and especially prevents smaller power groups from linking up, causing rivalries and fomenting discord among the people.” Sound familiar?
Please ask yourself, can we bridge the divide and find our common voice as women? This is the price for having a seat at the table. Every study out there shows that adding diversity makes organizations, companies and even countries stronger so why wouldn’t we want that? Perhaps adopting the military mindset of “no (wo)man left behind” and the familial bond that creates is something we need to consider for the betterment of all of us.
We have some terrific events lined up for you this year and look forward to seeing you all at an event in 2017! To learn more about our 2017 events, please visit www.txwsw.com