The Recruiting News
Do Women Rise to the Top by Chance or Choice?
(October 26, 2011)
11TH Annual Study by The Forum of Executive Women Finds Success Lies with Company and Individual
In its 11th annual Women on Boards Report released today, The Forum of Executive Women chose the theme 'Changing the Face of Leadership: By Chance or By Choice?' to emphasize that leaving change to chance hasn't delivered good enough results; companies must choose to implement a strategy for bringing more women into leadership roles.
At the same time, women who aspire to leadership roles cannot leave their careers to chance - they must choose to build the specific skills and experiences needed for top jobs and they must choose to invest time and energy in establishing professional networks both inside and outside their organizations.
"One thing seems resoundingly clear - that the path to success for a woman leader is one that rarely just 'happens,' but rather is a confluence of deliberate, thoughtful acts on the part of both the woman and her employers."
While recent trends suggest some progress for women, a year-to-year look at the numbers shows how difficult it has been to bring about robust change in the upper ranks. The executive suites and board rooms at the region's largest companies have a greater share of women than they did six years ago, but a stepped-up commitment to change is needed for the number of women in those positions to continue to grow.
Deloitte LLP assisted with research and served as Trailblazer Sponsor of the Women on Boards Report, which showed that the proportion of women in top executive positions at the Philadelphia region's 100 largest companies increased 17 percent from 2005 to 2010. During that same period, the proportion of women directors increased by 4 percent. More women also are among the companies' "top earners."
Last year, though, women held just 11 percent of board seats at the 100 companies included in The Forum's analysis - a proportion unchanged from the year before. Women held 10.1 percent of senior executive positions, down from the 11 percent share the year before. Women accounted for 9.6 percent of the top earners in 2010 - up from 9 percent the year before.
Further, 66 of 100 companies counted no women among their top earners - a figure unchanged from 2009. Only six companies had three or more women directors, down from eight in 2009. Only six women of color held board seats in 2010, compared to seven the year before.
The study was compiled following an analysis of 2010 year-end SEC filings by the top 100 companies by revenue in the region. The full results are available online at www.forumofexecutivewomen.com.
"As The Forum enters its 35th year, we are certainly pleased that the longer term trends are moving in the right direction -- but we see quite clearly the challenges in making substantive progress from year to year," said Autumn Bayles, President of The Forum of Executive Women, and Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations at Tasty Baking Company. "One thing seems resoundingly clear - that the path to success for a woman leader is one that rarely just 'happens,' but rather is a confluence of deliberate, thoughtful acts on the part of both the woman and her employers."
"The theme for this year's report 'Changing the Face of Leadership: By Chance or by Choice?' is quite appropriate as it is time to realize the advantages of deliberately cultivating future leaders for the executive suites as opposed to the all-too-common approach of having leaders who emerge by chance," said Tara L. Weiner, Managing Partner, Greater Philadelphia Region, Deloitte LLP.
The report also includes expert opinions and stories of successful women leaders and companies that embody the concept of collaboration between the individual and the employer on the path to success.
The Forum's Women on Boards report was released today at its annual Leadership Breakfast, where the keynote speaker was Gail Boudreaux, CEO of UnitedHealthcare and Executive Vice President of UnitedHealth Group.
For support in identifying talented women or for additional information, please contact The Forum Office at info @ forumofexecutivewomen.com.
About The Forum of Executive Women
Founded in 1977 and about to celebrate its 35th year, The Forum of Executive Women is the region's premier women's organization, comprised of a network of more than 360 of the most influential women leaders in the region. The Forum actively works to promote its mission to leverage the power of executive women in the Greater Philadelphia region to expand the impact and influence of women leaders. For additional information, visit www.forumofexecutivewomen.com.
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.
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