Are Businesswomen Contributing Enough? Nope!

(Originally posted on SVProjectManagement.com)

Not even close! Don’t take my word for it. I’m educated as a scientist, and I do everything I can to make fact-based decisions based on data, so here’s some data for ya . . .

According to the 2011 Catalyst Census:Fortune 500 Women Board DirectorsExecutive Officers and Top Earners and prior Catalyst Censuses, women have made no significant gains in the last year and are no further along the corporate ladder than they were six years ago:

  • Women held 16.1% of board seats in 2011, compared to 15.7% in 2010.
  • Less than one-fifth of companies had 25% or more women board directors.
  • About one in ten companies had no women serving on their boards.
  • Women of color still held only 3% of corporate board seats.
  • Women held 14.1% of Executive Officer positions in 2011, compared to 14.4% in 2010.
  • Women held only 7.5% of Executive Officer top-earner positions in 2011, while men accounted for 92.5% of top earners.
  • Less than one in five companies had 25% or more women Executive Officers and more than one-quarter had zero.

This is truly a pity, especially for business people who want to make a profit. Consider this from our friends at Catalyst. Companies with three or more women on their board of directors, on average, outperformed companies with zero women board directors:

  • by 84% return on sales,
  • 60% return on invested capital, and
  • 46% return on equity.

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Weed Your Life

Originally posted on SVProjectManagement.com December 2011.

Here’s another personal musing promoted by what I’ve come to call the “alcoholidays”.

This time of year my mind wanders to gratitude. I’m grateful for the incredibly talented colleagues who have made this year’s relentless stream of work border on enjoyable. And I’m thankful for friends who have made life’s normal burdens lighter through their kindness and support. A garden of friends and colleagues has made this terrifically challenging year much more pleasant for me. But, like all gardens, it occasionally needs weeding.

Many years ago when I was exiting physics graduate school, and sad to be leaving friends behind, one of my professors advised me to let go of relationships that had passed their time, and not to grieve for their loss. While many relationships grow more satisfying over the years, he cautioned that clinging indiscriminately to all past relationships can burden a person – like accumulating too much baggage on an around-the-world tour. This was a man whose life’s ambition was to get all of his worldly belongings into no more than 2 suitcases. I must say, now I see his point.Continue reading

Et Tu, Brute? The Obsolescence of Power

Originally published on ProjectConnections.com August 2011.

Traditional sources of power are obsolete in the 21st century business world — or at least I hope they are. I came to this realization on a recent vacation, and it’s been nagging at me ever since. Every year I travel to Ashland, Oregon, for the annual Shakespeare Festival (which is a bit of a misnomer since it runs February through November). This year I saw Julius Caesar, with a twist that I really appreciated: Caesar was played by a woman, and the script was changed to use “she” and “her” to match. This play left me feeling emotionally unsettled for the next 24 hours, but it had nothing to do with Caesar’s gender bender. The intensity began before I even entered the theater. As I approached the entrance, a dozen huge banners featuring slain leaders from around the world hung from the lampposts and beat noisily in the wind. More banners adorned the theater lobby, and as I devoured the dates and details of each one, an icy feeling crept into my heart.Continue reading


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