Monday, October 24, 2005

More Women Leaders

Marin Alsop wins the MacArthur Award, considered one of the most prestigious competitions recognizing creative genius in the music and arts with a $100,000 5 year unrestricted fellowship. See: and When most men receive this level of recognition, they bask publicly in the light of the award, the "genius" designation, the fact that they've beaten out all the competition for this special prize. Alsop, when asked about this outstanding acknowledgement of her achievements, said she's honored by "the grant" -- as if it were just one more stipend supporting a purposeful musical education.

Wendy Oxenhorn, of the Jazz Foundation of America, where she is executive director, has been helping 150 displaced New Orleans musicians get “gigs” so they can support themselves with all the major “fundamentals” that are NOT being provided by federal emergency assistance people.

Angela Ahrendts, formerly EVP with Liz Claiborne Inc., has moved over to Burberrry Group PLC as CEO.

Charlotte Neuville has been named as EVP of design and product development for the Gap Inc. brand.

Anne Faulk, former novelist, is successfully running Swingvote LLC, an Atlanta, GA company that helps major shareholders gather information needed to make proxy vote decisions – going head to head with Automated Data Processing Inc., the industry leader.

Anne Stevens was named by Ford Motor company as Sr. VP and head their North American Operations.

Katherine Ellison, author of “The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter” (Basic Books: 2005) received support from neuropsychology research papers submitted by Richard J. Davidson of the University of Wisconsin in the November National Academy Of Sciences.

Karen Sunday of Karen A. Sunday & Associates, A Tenant Representation Commercial Real Estate Firm Specializing In Office & Industrial Leasing In Orange County, was named The Irvine Co. Broker of the Year.

The Wall Street Journal ran its fourth special report on Corporate Governance October 17, 2005. (Previous special reports on the same subject were published: April 13, 2003; October 26, 2003; and June 21, 2004). Dispelling the Barbie Myth (“Math is so hard!”) and its financial equivalent (“Investments are so hard!”), was the very impressive list of contributing reporters in this month’s series:

Diya Gullapalli, Deborah Soloman, Phyllis Plitch, Mary Jacoby, Judith Burns, Joann S. Lublin, Beckey Bright, and Carol Hymowitz, In The Lead columnist.

Also, giving credit where it certainly is due:

John R. Emshwiller, Michael Rapoport, Worth Civils, and Laurence Rout, editor.

Dr. Susan Aaronson, director of globalization studies at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, a unit of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, presented recommendations to a Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing on federal efforts to coordinate dispersed corporate social responsibility programs. The Committee was reviewing a GAO report on US governmental initiatives pursuant to Aaronson's recommendations in 2002.

Martha Stewart will join KB Home, one of the nation’s largest home builders, in a joint venture to build 650 houses “inspired” by Ms. Stewart’s own homes in New York and Maine.

Friday, October 21, 2005

If you can’t stand the heat, Mr. French, then stay outta the kitchen

A Night at the Toronto Film Festival with WPP Chief Creative Director, Neil French [October 6, 2005] from: – Advertising’s Intellectual Archive by Brett McKenzie, Lead Writer:

“When questions came up from the audience, [Neil French] answered them with brutal honesty, even if some of his answers wouldn’t likely sit well with the person who asked. Such openness was to be expected; Neil has a reputation for being opinionated well beyond the realms of political correctness, and he was in fine form that evening.”

”For those who weren’t in attendance but heard whispers about the evening, you most likely heard about the part when Neil’s musings turned toward the topic of women in advertising. Yes, the tension in the room definitely raised a few notches when Neil had some pretty harsh words for the females in creative. A number of people squirmed in their seats, and a few even got up and left the event altogether. However, whether you agreed with Neil’s views or not, or whether you thought HE believed what he was saying, or just turned up his opinions for shock value (as showmen tend to do) the majority of the crowd hung on his every word. There was a great moment of levity when an audience member asked Neil what he’d come back as if reincarnation existed, and Boyko and Fenske answered “an accounts guy! A FEMALE accounts guy!” Neil sheepishly admitted that if karma were real, they’d probably be right.”

Nancy Vonk, a senior WPP executive present at the dinner, said she was "still partially paralysed" by his comments. The "death by blog" comments of Nancy Vonk:

"What struck me so hard as he described a group that will inevitably wimp out and 'go suckle something' after their short stint in advertising, was that in his honest opinion he was voicing the inner thoughts of legions of men in the senior ranks of our business," said Ms Vonk, who is co-chief creative officer of Ogilvy in Toronto. She added:

"Neil did us the favour of voicing a widely held view, albeit an extreme version. It's an opportunity for us all - men, too - to confront something every bit as wrong and unacceptable as racism. Replace every comment Neil made about women with the word 'black' and take my point."

In an interview October 20th, 2005 with the Toronto Globe & Mail, French said:

"The woman asked why there are so few women creative directors. I said because you can't commit yourself to the job. And everyone who doesn't commit themselves fully to the job is crap at it . . ,"

"You can't be a great creative director and have a baby and keep spending time off every time your kids are ill. You can't do the job. Somebody has to do it and the guy has to do it the same way that I've had to spend months and months flying around the world and not seeing my kid. You think that's not a sacrifice? Of course it's a sacrifice. I hate it. But that's the job and that's what I do in order to keep my family fed."

In an interview October 20th, 2005, with New York Ad Age Magazine, French defended himself and his comments regarding his belief that some women in advertising are crap because of their inability to commit themselves 100 percent to the job due to childcare issues and that women with families aren’t as equipped as men to succeed in the advertising business.

French said "women don't make it to the top because they don't deserve to," saying their roles as caregivers and childbearers prevented them from succeeding in top positions.

French confirmed that he quit as worldwide creative director of WPP Group PLC, the world's second-largest marketing company where he oversaw famous agency networks including Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, Young & Rubicam and Grey Worldwide.

French spoke from Miami with Advertising Age reporter Matthew Creamer about the controversy, defending himself:

Creamer: Did you say “crap”?

French: "Oh, of course, I did, yes. But I didn't say all female creative directors are crap. If you can't commit yourself to any job then, by definition, you're crap at it. If you can't commit 100 percent to your job, don't pretend you can. Nobody deserves a job unless they can commit to it."

In an interview with the New York Times, October 20, 2005, French defended his remarks.

"A belligerent question deserves a belligerent answer," he said. "The answer is, They don't work hard enough. It's not a joke job. The future of the entire agency is in your hands as creative director."

French said he believed that the event was private and he was there to entertain the crowd. "I wasn't joking, but I was saying it in a jokey way, in a situation that was supposed to be entertainment."

According to the New York Times, The One Club, ( a nonprofit organization that honors creative work in advertising, will induct a woman into its Hall of Fame next week for the first time since 1974. Out of 40 current inductees, 4 are women, according to the club's Web site.

The average annual base salary for female creative directors is $4,000 less than that for men, according to a study by the National Association for Female Executives; men earned $123,000, while women earned $119,000.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

More Research That You Should Be Reading, Girl!

The Accounting profession has now weighed in:

See the AICPA Supply-Demand Report for 2005 (PDF file): look at the male-female splits for Bachelors, Masters enrollment, graduates, hirings -- then the share of partnerships. Located at the Accounting Education Center, maintained by the AICPA Academic & Career Development Team:

As Leaders, Women Rule: (1999):

Executive Businesswomen's Learning in the Context of Organizational Culture by Laura L. Bierema of Michigan State University (1997)

Monday, October 10, 2005

2005 Hollywood Writers Report

Dr. Darnell Hunt, Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies was responsible for the 2005 report on diversity among Hollywood writers, entitled "Catching Up with a Changing America?" developed for the Writer’s Guild of America, west. ( Dr. Hunt also is a Professory of Sociology at UCLA.

The survey covers only WGAw-member groups: twenty-two major studio conglomerates and large independent studios examined in 2004.

The data showing how poorly female employment and compensation has progressed among tv and film writiers is bad enough. The poor treatment of minorities predictably follows suit.

Employment of female film and television writers:
From 1998 to 2004, women writers’ overall (film and television) share of employment increased by only 2 percent over a 7 year period:

1998 – 23%
2004 – 25% (1,140) of 4,785 employed film and television writers were women

1998 – 17%
2004 - 18% (318) of 1,770 employed film writers were women

1998 – 26%
2004 - 27% (822) of 3,015 employed television writers were women

Median salary of female television and film writers:
Television Writers
2002females$75,562 (96.4%, a gap of $2,860)
2004females$78,850 (87.6%, a gap of $11,191)
Film Writers
1998females$62,500 (83.3%, a gap of $12,500)
2004females$65,966 (77.6%, a gap of $18,897)

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

My Mother Told Me

I have watched the flailing of women in the economic marketplace -- of women in business today -- and have read the "Dear Abby-like" advice that some women are giving to other women about how to "win a seat" on a board of directors in the 21st century.

I'm beginning to realize that, maybe, in order to accomplish the goal of bringing women onto boards of directors, we're going to have to stop believing some of the more popular "myths" being bandied about concerning "winning a seat on a board of directors". Instead, it's time women began to focus on how they can "earn a seat on a board of directors".

What You Will Hear (WYWH) #1: Network, girl!

What You SHOULD Know (WYSK): When asked by The Corporate Board Member Magazine about the processes that boards of directors use to recruit future directors, existing boards said that they use industry/association networks barely 24% of the time.

To get on a board, you need to be known and valued, consistently -- by your peers, your superiors, and your subordinates -- for a significant and meaningful competence.

WYWH #2: Let the CEO know you're interested.

WHSK: In the post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, the board itself has become primarily responsible for its own organization, performance, recruitment, operation and selection criteria. In some cases, a recommendation from the CEO could undermine your independence and suggest you cannot make it on your own merits.

To get on a board, today, you need to be seen as an asset to the complete organization.

WYWH #3: Become visible, make public presentations.

WYSK: Most of the women on today's boards of directors are not that visible outside of the profession where they did make, and are making, a significant and meaningful contribution, for the long term. Women who came onto boards with "soft" presentation-only skills are leaving in droves as they realize today's larger board responsibilities.

To get on a board, today, you need the skills, and to be willing and ready to educate and inform men and women in your area of expertise.

WYWH #4: Bone up on board issues and regulations.

WYSK: Today's board members invest, themselves, in ensuring that they have a continuity of personal and professional executive education in the field of governance, about how the regulatory and exchange standards and practices are changing; and about the wealth of new resources - within and without the organization - that can pinpoint "best professional practices" to guide strategic decision-making.

To get on a board, today, you need to study, investigate, and understand governance both in its current form, but also in how it is changing today compared to even 2-3 years ago.

WYWH #5: It's an opportunity to travel, meet, and confer with leaders.

WYSK: Boards today are required not only to select and review the performance and compensation of the CEO, but also "to put their feet to the floor" and visit the corporate halls and gatherings, the customer and suppliers, to get to know the stakeholders and how this entity works. Boards are also responsible for establishing and appraising their own performance as a group chartered with oversight of the entity, its management development, and its several constituencies.

To serve on a board, today, entails hard work.

WYWH #6: Get on a well-funded non-profit as a stepping-stone.

Think about it! How can an entity, which is NOT driven by economic motives possibly train you to serve as a strategic decision-maker in a profit-oriented globally-competitive corporate environment? How is an organization with little or no management talent going to provide you with practical governance experience?

How is an under-staffed and under-paid entity going to give you opportunities to demonstrate your competence in overseeing a profit and loss center?

To qualify for service on a board, you need to invest your time and money in business entitles, ventures, operations, and other business interests to get real business experience. One of the best untried opportunities for women interested in board service is for women-owned businesses to build boards that tap women to serve on their boards and ensure that women-owned businesses start to grow, thrive and succeed.

If women don't put women on their boards of directors, first, then how can they expect men to put women on their boards of directors?

Business is not a charity or a church. It can do "good things" after it has succeeded, first, as an economic business entity.

WYWH #7: Look for a company where directors stepped down.

WYSK: A crucial pre-requisite for accepting board service is to conduct complete due diligence about the firm, its current board members and practices. If directors are leaving, vacancies may portent significant problems with the entity that are known only to the insiders.

To serve on a board today assumes knowledge and a willingness to identify and manage risks that come from myriad directions. The rewards are extremely generous; and the expectations of preparation similarly are high.

WYWH #8: Hob-nob with executive recruiters.

WYSK: The Corporate Board Member Magazine surveyed boards, asking them how they themselves would recruit future directors. Over 92.5% of boards say they rely on internal Board contacts; another 68.7% report that management contacts are used. Fewer than 45% of boards rely on fee-based recruiting firms.

Historically, female executives within corporations have reported since the early 1990s that they climb their way up the corporate ladder, on the inside track, only to be ignored when top management brings in traditional recruiting firms who seem only to present traditional males in their search results.

Today's boards of directors must publish their existing competencies as well as the skills and capabilities for which they are searching. They must also identify the source(s) of nominees for board of director candidates. And, boards are responsible for the development of the "leadership gene pool" of top management talent within the corporation. If women aspire to board roles, there are many direct ways to access and contact the board from inside the corporation, itself.

It is NOT about "winning" a board seat. Rather, it is all about "earning" a board seat.

If you own stock in a corporation, you want to know that the board talent leading that entity is qualified, competent, and capable of making the best investment decisions for all of the shareholders - not merely the CEO or the top rung of management, but all the institutional investors, all of the employee investor, all of the community investors, and all of the individual investors.

If you use or consume the products or services of this corporation, you want to know that the board leadership is capable of making sound, long-term, safe and sane decisions about where, how, how much the entity produces in this country or elsewhere.

If you work for this entity, you want to be able to look up and have confidence that the board of directors will take the steps necessary to keep this entity viable, to use the labor and the capital available to it in an economically sound manner.

If you live in the community in which this business operates, you want to be able to trust that the decisions made at the very top will be consistent with those decisions that are in your economic best interests.

Women have a valuable and appropriate role to perform on the stage that is at the very top of our public organizations. Women have the resources, capabilities, and competence to serve as directors on the boards of our major corporations. Within the next 10 to 15 years, women will earn an estimated 40% of the public corporate board seats among top American firms. They will do so not by playing games or by being coy, cute little things. They will take their appropriate seats because they have an important contribution to make.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Women in Management Networks

At a recent women’s professional networking gathering, we began by answering the leader’s request, a la Chris Mathews – “Tell me something I don’t know.” After a round of female business pitches, the tone gradually changed. Instead of the women tooting their own horns, they began to regress to the style of “giving it all away.”

It started with one woman reminiscing about how much fun she had at another’s craft- painting party. This, at a “professionals’ networking group”?? She was followed by a second woman praising another for a sharing or caring incident. As each one spoke, the next one seemed to try to “one-DOWN” the previous speaker by mentioning the most un-professional and un-business aspect or behavior of one or another of the women in the group. At the end of the turn around the circle, it felt as if one had been transported to a first grade game of “Everyone Build Everyone Else’s Self-Esteem”.

This is the style that many women prefer as they spin off “women in management networks” from their male counterparts.

This is how one business journalists described the emerging trend:

“Female members of the professional networking group recently formed their own networking group in order to make contacts and to share experiences in an environment they believe is better suited to their style. . . The women’s group provides support and mentoring they don’t often find among male-dominated networking groups.” [Shelly Garcia, San Fernando Valley Business Journal]

It IS important to have the female-network experience. At the same time, it is also important to know the price you are paying for this luxury. There are several important aspects of this “payment” that women need to understand as they go head-first into the all-female-networking experience. Here are a few of the lessons.

First, women may be conditioning themselves to sing only one part of the chorus. And, in like manner, the absence of women among male networking groups means that men might be conditioning themselves to sing only the masculine, locker-room chorus, in the absence of the harmonizing influence of women.

Men and women might be better off if each learned to listen to, to understand, and perhaps tune our thinking and speaking a little better to the other gender. We have a lot we can learn from each other if we could do a better job of both speaking up for ourselves (women especially) AND of listening to the others (men especially).

A second part of the price women might be paying, by going on their own in networking groups, is that we are re-enforcing typically female behavior. One example is this tendency to “one-DOWN” each other – also known as “the power dead even rule” – where women verbally make sure that no other woman is allowed to rise higher than her peers. This is the style of female conversation that, when one woman speaks well of her achievements, other women often think, “Who does she think SHE is anyway, the Bitch!”

It is a style very similar to the Japanese, where the saying is “The nail that tries to stick out gets hammered down.” In Japan, the hammer usually comes down from the top of the corporate hierarchy. The hammer that pounds down the uppity female more often is held in the hands of every other female she knows.

Third, by effectively beating back the female achiever, striver, and competitor, women are failing to acknowledge their trailblazers. The results are:

1. we lose the benefit of the pioneer woman as a role model

2. we train other women to behave cautiously for fear of similar ostracism

3. we end up having no examples of women challengers and achievers from whom we can learn how to solve our own problems or how to overcome our own barriers

4. we ensure that great and exemplary women and their contributions are ignored and forgotten.

Thus, women are condemned to repeat the errors and mistakes of the past – even when those trailblazing women faced the same challenges before and successfully slayed those demons. Women may not learn the lessons from the past.

Since men will give little enough recognition to the contributions made by women, the fact that women ALSO don’t give credit to achieving women means we lose our female verbal and written history – our HER-story.

And why? Why are we afraid of great and achieving women? Why would we rather focus all of our attention on either (1) sharing our “ills”, our “troubles” or (2) finding our lowest common denominator of “sugar and spice and everything nice?” Because both will generate sympathy.

So, when you start networking with professional women, prepare yourself not to conduct business, but to engage in the “sympathy and comfort game”. And that goes a long way toward explaining why women do not conduct as much business – real business – with other women. Because they are focusing less on the substantive business needs and wants of the individuals with whom they are networking, but rather on trying to evoke business from them out of sympathy, comfort, guilt, obligation, or similarly subtle expectations of non-achievement.

And for those women who aspire to find the lowest possible common denominator among professional women in business, they can only expect to succeed in achieving their goal.