Women Gaining Clout Steadily, But Slowly

Discussion
Aug 17, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The C200 Business Leadership Index, a report that provides a year-to-year benchmark of the progress women are making in influencing U.S. business, calls this year’s numbers “sobering” because, while females are gaining more clout, the earliest they will achieve parity is expected to be 2018.

The group that produces the report, The Committee of 200 otherwise known as C200, gauges progress based on an evaluation scale of 1 – 10 in areas including: “business ownership; board seats at Fortune 500 companies; corporate officer positions at Fortune 500 companies; company size of women-run businesses; venture capital funding; line-to-staff ratios; gender wage gap; MBA enrollment at top business schools; keynote speaking platforms; and charity fundraising chairs.”

Between 2004 and this year, women scored 5.06 on the parity scale. This current score marked a nine percent increase from the previous year, which also increased nine percent from the year preceding it.

The good news, according to C200, is that the number of women-owned businesses continues to grow. The average size of women-run businesses was up seven percent between 2004 and 2005.

On the negative side, women-owned businesses are finding it harder to obtain venture capital. C200’s Index shows a 25 percent drop in this area over the 2004 and 2005.

Moderator’s Comment: From your vantage point, what is the most exciting and troubling aspects of the progress women
are making in retailing and related businesses?

George Anderson – Moderator

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10 Comments on "Women Gaining Clout Steadily, But Slowly"


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David Livingston
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I think the answer lies in how we are programmed. Imagine if we were to interview 1,000 8th grade boys and ask them if they had a choice: would they rather be a wealthy successful business person or good looking when they grow up? What would they choose? Then ask the girls the same question.

Would you rather be known as the nicest boy in school, or the best athlete?

For the girls, would you rather be known as being the smartest girl in your class or the prettiest?

How our children answer these questions will determine future parity in the boardroom.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 6 months ago
What are the most exciting aspects? The fact that women have more choices today than ever. What are the most troubling aspects? The fact that women have more choices. Just for clarification, the latter doesn’t worry me whatsoever. I have tried and failed many times before at making this point in similar discussions. The wonderful thing for women is that they have so many more options than men in so many ways. The problem with that is that it dilutes the perception about women. Men, on the other hand, are more limited (whether we like it or not). There are fewer choices and alternatives. It’s less of a sexist thing as it is reality. And again, it’s not a sexist thing at all. For example, just review Karen’s comments and then relate them back to what I am attempting to convey. The options are greater and the choices are greater. That’s why the alternative options when taken have been so successful. I think I’d better stop here before I become even more misunderstood.
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I see sexist discrimination all the time. I know that many people’s favorite targets are car dealers…but I have to say that I saw NO female salespeople after visiting dealers of Infiniti, Lexus, Subaru, Honda, VW, Acura, Nissan in the past month or so. I still visit other retail stores where every cashier present is female. How many boards of directors are even 1/3 female?

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I know boards with brilliant women on them who are put there for their expertise and brainpower. And that’s great. I know boards that include non-threatening, pleasant women of average intelligence, who are put there because the guy’s board wanted some women on the board, but not women who would upset the applecart. That, unfortunately, is a set-up for the woman (as in “I told you women couldn’t do this job”) and an unfortunate reinforcement of the stereotype that should have died long ago. If anybody’s interested (and I have no financial interest in this), you can get a print of “Women Who Behave Don’t Make History” at http://www.cafepress.com/3amart.27319287

I gave one to my daughter, in hopes that she’ll someday make history.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I say what Karen says. Many women are choosing not to compete on male turf but to define their own. And doing pretty well at it. The shame of it is that male dominated banks and financial institutions are taking note and throwing up ever more obstacles to raising the funds that they need to get started and then to grow. As long as that continues, women in business of all kinds will continue to have to fight much harder than men ever do.

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 6 months ago

The most troubling thing about all this is that it is an issue at all. Unfortunately, the glass ceiling still exists in the business community for women. More disturbing is that these obstacles are not limited to gender, but extend to ethnicity and age as well. It’s like the elephant in the corner. Everyone sees it but no one wants to talk about it.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 6 months ago

Even as women spend more time in the boardroom, my personal experience is that they, for the most part, do not carry the same weight as a man with similar experience. They are physically present, but I am not convinced that women’s voices are being heard with the same consideration.

I believe one of the reasons there are so many women-owned businesses is that women are choosing to leave male-dominated environments and create their own space where they can run things as they see fit. Women are making more progress in small business ownership than invading the sanctified ranks of America’s boardrooms – this, I believe, is the reason.

The fact that retailers, of all industries, are so slow to embrace women stuns me as they remain the primary shoppers and have more natural insight into what might work.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 6 months ago

I would agree with the comment made earlier that the most disturbing thing about this topic is that it remains a pertinent topic.

The inability of individuals within society to see each other without respect to gender or race continues to terrify me. That it remains within retail, where for so very long we have always referred to “Mrs. Six-Pack” or “Mom” as our core customer…it’s beyond inexcusable.

I challenge each and every reader to examine his or her own prejudices. You are employed or empowered to run a business. That requires a blindness to anything other than the ability of your staff to contribute to the goals and objectives of the organization. We are required to protect and nurture stockholder equity. Gender and race blindness are a prerequisite to performing this responsibility.

As leaders in business, we are given opportunities to influence others and society. We must take these responsibilities. This does not mean “affirmative action.” It means blindness to those aspects of individual difference which have no meaning in our context.

Tatia Griffin
Guest
Tatia Griffin
15 years 6 months ago

As a woman in the retail industry, I am always amazed at how many women actually work in the stores and how many women actually work in the corporate offices and in management positions. What a big discrepancy. Why are most district and regional managers men when the majority of the people in the stores are women??? Do women not get promoted? Or are their families the priority and they don’t want to be promoted because of the extra time and focus required to go to the next level? Is it a quality of life question? Are women less willing than men to give up free time or be consumed by a job rather than their life???

I work in the corporate office and there are several women here, however not very many at manager or above. The six foot white male still dominates.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 6 months ago
I seem to be agreeing more with Bernice all the time. That is scary. My business support staff of an attorney, investment advisor, accountant, web site support, etc. is made up entirely of 100% women. They are their own boss and its their choice to do business with me. The quality of work is excellent however the fees they charge are substantially lower compared to their male or corporate counterparts. Still they do as well or better overall financially compared to being a slave in the corporate world. Most are single mom’s and they work out of their own home, which saves them thousands in daycare and commuting expenses. The true test of anyone’s real worth is what can a person produce without using the support of corporate policies and federal employment laws. I really doubt we will ever see equal parity between men and women unless women can be mentally programmed to become bigger risk takers. I see too many women choosing to be cashiers rather than store managers. Or nurses rather than doctors.… Read more »
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