Shortage of Women in Top Management Positions in Calif. Businesses, Says Study
There is a woman sitting in only one of every 10 chairs at the boardroom tables and executive desks of California’s 200 largest publicly traded companies, and that means a missed opportunity for business, according to a study released by the University of California, Davis.
In the first study of its kind to take a critical look at the participation of women in corporate leadership in California, researchers from the Graduate School of Management found women hold only 10.2 percent of the combined board seats and highest-paid executive officer positions. Specifically, they occupy only 202 seats, or 11.4 percent, of the 1,771 board seats and 8.2 percent of the 1,006 executive slots.
The report comes as corporate leadership is being held to a higher level of accountability, and the study’s authors say greater representation of women makes good business sense.
“We believe that bringing more women into the boardroom and the executive ranks will lead to stronger relationships with customers and shareholders and result in more diverse and profitable businesses,” the authors say.
“The 2005 UC-Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders” was prepared by Dr. Nicole Woolsey Biggart, dean of the management school, and professors Dr. Kim Elsbach and Dr. Katrina Ellis.
“A diversity of thought and experience in leadership is good business strategy,” says Dr. Virginia Hinshaw, provost and executive vice chancellor at UC-Davis. “We need to encourage companies to tap into all that women can bring to the table.”
The study identified 25 companies where women fill at least 20 percent of the director and executive officer positions. Those companies can serve as role models for other businesses in the state, say the report’s authors. Topping the list was Golden West Financial Corp. of Oakland, a holding company in the financial services sector with seven women in 14 board and executive positions.
The study found 55 of the state’s top 200 companies have no female board members or executive officers. Thirty-four percent of the top 200 companies have no women in the boardroom, and nearly 38 percent have only one female director.
In addition, nearly 68 percent of the companies studies have no women among their top five executives, and only 8 percent have two or more women in those positions. Women are chief executive officers of only six of the companies.
The authors say having women well represented in corporate leadership is more than playing fair — it makes good business sense.
“California companies aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities to use the talents and unique perspective of half of our population,” Biggart says. “It’s a missed opportunity.”
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