Monday, August 24

Urban London And Women In Business

Phone photo from somewhere near Heathrow.

Women, according to a survey of 2,000 women by Tampax, start planning their week-end at 2:47 PM on Monday. Now there is an inflamatory observation if ever there is one. This kind of nonsense unhelpful to the three percent of female Executive Directors at the UK's top 350 companies (source: Co-operative Asset Management) or 34 of the 971 positions. More than 130 of the companies in the FTSE 350 Index do not have one woman on the Board (The Observer) and only four companies have Chairwomen while nine businesses have a female Chief Executive. This disgraceful.

Our family friend Guy brought a law suit against State Farm Insurance in the late 1970s because >99% of State Farm's sales agents male while >60% sales assistants and secretaries female. State Farm argued all the way to the final settlement that women did not want those high-paying jobs, nor qualified for the role. As the case progressed, Guy refused to accept company settlements and insisted on a jury which caused all kinds of internal friction at his law firm, I can imagine. In the end, his class-action the biggest recorded to then or $315 million in penalties against State Farm; Guy enjoys receiving semi-annual updates from State Farm's CEO on gender hiring, as required by the deciding court.

In my brief and humble experience, I worked with a female CEO who I recruited into a business that I started, in part, with Guy's support. She was worse then bad, but let us leave that for there though do feel free to contact me for a reference. Women make up half the world's talent pool and approximately 25% of business school graduates - Columbia, for instance, boasts around 35%, which is at the top of the US MBA schools. Let us assume that our largest corporations global and US business schools training students to run these companies... when I was in grad school in '97, there were over 65,000 MBAs receiving diplomas from accredited schools, up from under 5,000 per year in the 1970s. Taking the elite business schools (Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia, Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck) which graduate 5,000 per year or about the same rate over 30 years and assume 15% of students female, aprox. 30,000 women own diplomas and careers from these world class institutions. This should provide ample pipeline, even discounting for the less experienced recent graduates, to fill our world's best companies with women CEOs, Board Directors and Executive Directors.

While it is difficult to
ascertain what we have lost without a fair representation of women in our senior work force, there is no doubt limiting the pool to men harmful. Same as Guy, My sister trying to change this. Who says one or two committed people cannot make the difference?