I want to thank all of our speakers, sponsors and members for their support of our 9th annual State of the Markets event last week! The proceeds from our event (and from TXWSW operations) go to support the Young Women’s Preparatory Network and the important work they do. Many of you are familiar with the McKinsey study that notes the strong economic growth that comes from building gender parity in the workforce and the fact that Texas’ gender parity score ranks in the bottom quarter of states is a drag on our economic growth.
Access to education for young girls is especially critical given that Texas boasts the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancies in the nation and this costs our state over $1.1 billion annually. This figure does not factor in lost wages and increased dependence on social services. When our young girls, babies themselves, are having babies, they are stuck in a cycle of poverty. Today, 21% of US children live in poverty, and impoverished children grow up possessing fewer skills, and are more likely to have health issues and engage in crime. With over 4,500 students attending 8 network schools across the state, YWPN is changing outcomes for these girls, 76% of whom are first in their family to graduate high school much less go on to college. YWPN alum are graduating college at 8x the national rate for economically-disadvantaged students, so the model is working. YWPN has more schools in the pipeline and they need our help in turning around the dismal prospects for our Texas girls. This is not only a cause that can make us all feel good, it makes economic sense.
Speaking of money, the first article is an Op Ed from the Times. The unapologetic title I Want to Be Rich and I’m Not Sorry is a must read for all women. So many women have different ways of defining success, but according to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender, “rich” is still considered a man’s word. There are many factors to blame, but part of it comes down to how we socialize our children. Girls are expected to be caretakers first and foremost. As women in finance, we can be first to embrace the sentiment that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be rich. And if that goes against your grain, another way to look at it is to think of all the good that can get done if you were rich. The full article can be found here.
Nike was in the press this week. Apparently, life for female employees was nothing short of toxic and reporting bad behavior to human resources went nowhere, so a small group of women began surveying their peers as to whether they had been the victim of sexual harassment and/or gender discrimination. On March 5, the completed packet of questionnaires made it to the CEO’s desk and the outcome was the ouster of 7 top executives including the CEO himself. Gender discrimination and harassment are about power, so if it is happening to you, it is more than likely happening to other women. This story illustrates the power that comes when women work together to combat an issue. When it is one woman, she is a complainer; when it is more of us, it is a toxic culture that executives ignore at their peril. Bullies count on their victims to be silent, and when women don’t speak up, the bullies win. The full article can be found here.
Women working at smaller companies report experiencing the same amount of harassment as women working at large ones. The issue is that at small companies, there is often not the infrastructure in place to deal with the problem which can lead to problems. The full article can be found here.
The next article notes that there are more Fortune 500 CEOs named John than Fortune 500 CEOs who are women, and this statistic also holds true for Republican senators, and Democratic governors. This is in a world where 50.8% of the population are women and men named John represent just 3.3% of the male population. And before you ask, John was not even the most represented name in the list of Fortune 500 CEOs. It was James at 5%. The full article can be found here. The even more dismal news is that I thought the article title sounded familiar and some googling brought up the same statistics from a 2015 article which can be found here.
The next article, from the Wall Street Journal notes that change is possible – it only requires blunt force. Mandates in Europe have forced the issue and in the last few years, the number of women on boards of large corporations have tripled and even quadrupled. Now how hard was that? The full article can be found here.
We have some terrific events lined up for you in 2018 including our ten-year anniversary celebrations in August! We look forward to seeing you all at an event in 2018! To learn more about our 2018 events, please visit www.txwsw.com