Thursday, October 23, 2014

Come See this Wall of Shame

Happy Fernandez had big plans for helping develop women leaders in the non-profit world. Women in particular, she felt, could benefit from mentoring by other women who, like herself, had made difficult ascents up institutional ladders and were now reaching the end of their careers.
The politically savvy former college head pulled together some 20 women -- leaders in the non-profit  sector -- who began meeting to come up with a plan for giving back. (She included me, thinking some day I'd write about their initiative.)
Then,  very suddenly nearly two years ago, Happy died.
With her spirit and energy still in the room, her rump group continued to meet, following up on one of her ideas: to study the gender gap, both in numbers and salary, among non-profit executives in education and healthcare in the Philadelphia area. Thanks to the Forum of Executive Women,  that report was published this week -- a new addition to the Forum's annual look at corporate salaries.
The good news: the percentage of women at the helm of non-profits or on their boards is far greater than for public companies in the Philadelphia region. A survey of the area's 100 top companies in 2013, found that only 12 percent of executive positions were held by women. That compared with 26 percent of executives in health care and 29 percent in colleges and universities.
The bad news from those same numbers: even in the non-profit sector where women generally reach higher rungs, only about 1 in 4 executives are women, according to the latest data, from 2011.
Plus, most of the medical and educational institutions with significant numbers of women in leadership are those that were historically women's schools and/or Catholic institutions where nuns had significant roles. Their numbers skew the totals.
Look at the pitiful number of women on boards of some big non-profit institutions based on 2011 data:
Thomas Jefferson University -- 4 of 39 board members were women; Temple University (4 women out of 36), Virtua health system (1 out of 12),  and Kennedy Health System (1 out of 11).
Women, after all, account for most employees in both education and health. Those are areas of care and nurturing -- roles that women in particular have claimed as their dominion (though thankfully more men are stepping up at least on the home front.)
Although the numbers of women leaders at public companies (vetted by the accounting firm PwC) have been edging up,  the results remain dismal. Fewer than half the companies  (44 percent) have no women at all as top executives, according to their 10K filings. Comcast, now a big national company, in 2013 had no top executive women, no top salary earners and but one female member out of 12 on its board.
There's more:
--35 of the top 100 public companies in the area had no women on their (well paid) boards;
--Only eight companies had three or more female board members
--Only seven companies had a female CEO
And by my count, 21 of the 100 companies were all male bastions, with not a single woman on either their boards or among the top ranks of their executives in 2013, according to the report, which failed to break out that tally. For the record, let's name those without  any women leadership: Triumph GroupDFC GlobalJ&J Snack Foods (what, women don't eat pretzels?); Dorman ProductsBrandywine Realty TrustFive Below (we know who shops for the toys); StoneMore Partners (owners of funeral homes and cemeteries); Vishay Precision GroupPhotoMedex (a skin care firm); SL IndustriesDover Downs Gaming & Entertainment (maybe that's why its shares are worth only 81 cents); Omega FlexRCM Technologies; Resource America; Lannett (a drug maker); Dover Motorsports (owners of Dover Speedway); WPCS InternationalInTESTInnovative Solutions; JetPay (a payroll company); and ProPhase Labs (which makes ColdEEZE).
While many of these are industrial and technology companies, what do their leadership choices say about their commitment to women in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, Math) jobs?

The report also found women lagging men financially, both in public companies and "eds and meds":
Of the "top earners":
--Women comprised only 10 percent of top earners at the 100 public companies;
--Women comprised 32 percent of top earners at health-care systems;
--Women made up 27 percent of top earners at colleges and universities.

Jane Scaccetti, one of three women directors of Pep Boys, a car care company, explains why getting more women on boards can make a difference in decision making.  Not naming a company with just one female board member (herself), she gave this example: "I watched a board committee become enthralled with a candidate because he was once a great athlete. They asked questions mostly about his athletic accomplishments…After the interview, when I questioned the shallowness of the candidate's answers to technical questions and experience, a member looked shocked that I was challenging a great athlete."
At Pep Boys, she said, adding women to the board has changed its dynamic. "As a lone female board member when I voiced an opinion or raised an issue," she says in the report, "I would hear, 'She said.' When there were two women serving on the board, things improved to 'They said.' Now that there are three women, we hear, 'What did you say?'"

Happy, who had just stepped down as president of Moore College of Art, was seeking a way to channel women's leadership experience to help others up the ladder as her "unretiring" project. A way to give back.  Her legacy is inspiring other to find ways to do that. For one, the Forum of Executive Women offers mentoring in the corporate world. What else is out there? Do you know of another programs? Have any ideas?


Wendy Lee Forman said...

Thanks for this well-researched piece. I'm impressed by the article and depressed by the content.
We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do...what else is new?
Anyway, it is very important to keep in mind how poorly-represented women are in a variety of power positions. Thanks for the wakeup call.

Becca said...

Brookings has a women's leadership course, but it might be for government not corporate: