In Praise Of Women

 “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” Gloria Steinem

So call me sexist and discriminatory, but I generally like women more than men. I find their company and conversation more rich and varied, their presence more nurturing, inclusive and gracious. In fact, I’m wondering if women are just plain superior to men. I recall reading somewhere that the world would be better off with fewer male genes in the pool, needing only a few good ones to sustain the species, the rest being superfluous, or even counter-productive to the healthy evolution of life on earth. Am I way off base here Dr. Suzuki?

From a business or career perspective, there should no longer be any doubt that women are as capable as men, and often more so. Years ago, I had the honour to help train Canada’s first female Air Force pilots, and flew as co-pilot with women on helicopter search and rescue missions. In that context I witnessed a degree of professionalism that was not always evident with an all-male crew, where egos and swagger might occasionally compromise safety and sound judgement.

Could it also be that women are genetically wired to be more successful corporate CEOs than men, and that a company run by a woman has a better chance at long term success? A study by Catalyst, a leading non-profit working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women, found that companies with the highest representation of women on their senior management teams had a 34% higher total return to shareholders than companies with the lowest women’s representation. So beyond the obvious fairness and equality perspectives, there may be good financial reasons to measure the number of women in management and senior executive positions.

In an effort to further quantify this relationship a new service has been introduced by KLD Analytics, an independent investment research firm providing sustainability research and financial indexes. KLD has just introduced the Global Women Investment Index, which is designed to provide exposure to companies that take affirmative steps to attract, retain, and promote women and to advance gender equality. KLD has built an excellent reputation in helping clients worldwide to integrate ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria into their investment decisions.

To select GWI constituents, KLD tracks corporate performance according to four major indicators: Board Representation, Workplace Representation, Programs and Policies, and Controversies.

  • Board Representation – How many members of the corporation’s board are women, and how does the company compare to sector and regional peers?
  • Workplace Representation – What percentage of senior line executives, non-line executives, and managers are women?
  • Programs and Policies – This metric is constructed from data on corporate commitment to mentoring, leadership development, alternative work schedules, and benefits for mothers, fathers, and children.
  • Controversies – This measure accounts for gender relations problems at each company, including lawsuits and incidents related to discrimination, harassment, or a hostile work environment.
  • Prejudices and barriers may take generations to fall completely, and the ranks of women CEOs in corporate North America are still very thin. Of course women still dominate the traditional role of raising families, which can’t leave much room for running a Fortune 500 company at the same time. Maybe we should all hope that it stays that way, for the job of raising a family at home is probably much too important to be left to us men.

In the US, 15 of the 500 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were female.

  1. Brenda Barnes, Sara Lee
  2. Angela Braley, WellPoint
  3. Christina Gold, Western Union
  4. Susan Ivey, Reynolds American
  5. Andrea Jung, Avon<
  6. Carol Meyrowitz, TJX
  7. Anne Mulcahy, Xerox
  8. Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo
  9. Paula Reynolds, Safeco
  10. Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods
  11. Mary Sammons, Rite Aid
  12. Patricia Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland
  13. Lynn Elsenhans, Sunoco
  14. Ellen Kullman, DuPont
  15. Carol Bartz, Yahoo

In Canada, the Financial Post reports that 26 of Canada’s largest 500 companies are run by women.

  1. Martha Finn Brooks, Novelis Inc
  2. Monique F. Leroux, Mouvement des Caisses Desjardins
  3. Karen Kinsley, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
  4. Moya Greene, Canada Post Corporation
  5. Annette Verschuren, Home Depot Canada
  6. Kelly McDougald, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
  7. Jill Hutcheon, Workplace Safety & Insurance Board
  8. Laura Formusa, Hydro One
  9. Nancy C. Southern, ATCO Ltd.
  10. Linda Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation
  11. Kathy Bardswick, Co-operators General Insurance Company
  12. Julie A. Dill, Union Gas
  13. Sophie Brochu, Gaz Métro,
  14. Monique F. Leroux, Desjardins General Insurance Group
  15. Kerri Molinaro, IKEA Canada
  16. Linda Kuga Pikulin, The Pepsi Bottling Group (Canada),
  17. Susan I. Paish, Pharmasave Drugs (National) Ltd.
  18. Denise Pickett, Amex Bank of Canada
  19. Michelle Carinci, Atlantic Lottery Corporation
  20. Heather M. Reisman, Indigo Books & Music
  21. Monique F. Leroux, Caisse Centrale Desjardins
  22. Marilyn McLaren, The Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation
  23. Tamara Vrooman, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union
  24. Rosemarie Leclair, Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc.
  25. Ellen J. Moore, Chubb Insurance Company of Canada
  26. Betty K. DeVita, Citibank Canada