• Applicable


The numbers are revealing: Women held only 14% of US directorships in 2003 and only 10% of UK corporate board seats a year later. Why does such a dearth of distaff board members prevail when a vast majority of women hold jobs, make most major home and business purchases, and outnumber men in attaining university degrees? Is this imbalance due to the male-oriented corporate culture, child rearing issues, biased recruitment and promotion policies, all of the above or something else entirely? Consultants Peninah Thomson and Jacey Graham thoroughly explore this issue, examining the reasons why the gap exists, why companies would be healthier with a greater female board representation and what firms can do about it. They also detail how they formed the “Financial Times/Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 Cross-Company Mentoring Program” as one solution to the problem. The book’s conversational flow makes up for its repetition and lack of synthesized information. getAbstract suggests it to all executives who seek balanced corporate governance and particularly to women who aspire to directorships.


Why She Who Controls the Purse Doesn’t Rule the Business World

Women make up slightly more than half the world’s population. In the United States and United Kingdom, they make more purchasing decisions than men and earn the majority of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Women own more than a third of US businesses. Worldwide, they “influence” greater than 85% of buying choices, purchase more than half of all new cars and “start 35% of new businesses.” Yet, in 2003, women held only 13.6% of Fortune 500 company directorships; in 2004, only 9.7% of Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 directors were female. Given their overriding presence in economic life, why are so few women on corporate boards?

While many reasons exist for the lack of female directors, the question of whether to have more women serve in corporate boardrooms no longer is debatable. Greater female involvement in corporate governance draws talent from the entire labor pool at a time when skills and capabilities are in great demand. In general, women bring different strengths and management styles to the board table than men. A fairer representation of women on corporate boards would...

About the Authors

Peninah Thomson is a consultant at Praesta Partners, an executive coaching firm. Jacey Graham co-founded Brook Graham LLP, which specializes in corporate diversity management.

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