Monday, December 12, 2005

Women Not At the Top in the Communications Industry

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania conducted studies of the communications industry's exclusion of women from top decision-making tiers of telecommunications, printing and publishing, entertainment, and advertising companies.


[The Glass Ceiling Persists: The 3rd Annual APPC Report on Women Leaders in Communications Companies by Erica Falk, Ph.D., Washington Research Director and Erin Grizard, Research Associate; December 2003]

    "While discrimination against women in all industries is of public policy concern, the role of women in communications companies is of particular interest because communications companies play a special role in society. The news, movies, television shows, websites, papers, advertisements, books, and magazines that we watch and read not only tell us about the events of the day through their content, but also tell us about our world in the way that content is presented. They communicate in subtle and often unconscious ways who and what is important and normal and who has status and power, and the media help tell us what our national agenda should be. Communications companies therefore play an especially important role, and the people who make decisions about what kinds of news, information, and entertainment get produced have additional power." [p. 7]


For three years running, the communications industry ignored the APPC survey findings. The industry leaders and management believed it was a "non-issue" -– not worthy of print or commentary.

Here are the facts from the survey of 57 telecommunications companies from the Fortune 500 firms in four industry sectors:

  • The odds of having ZERO women on boards of directors at telecom firms was higher (17.5%) than having any woman on the board (13%).

  • The odds of having ZERO women in the executive ranks at telecom firms was 12.3% compared to only a 17% chance of having any woman in the executive tier.

  • Tokenism on boards of telecom firms is rampant: 42.1% of telecom firms had ONLY ONE woman on their board.

  • Tokenism in the executive ranks also exists in 31.6% of telecom firms with ONLY ONE woman executive officer.

  • By combining the number of firms with ZERO women plus TOKEN (1) women, the result is 54.4% of all Fortune 500 telecom companies have little or no input from women on their boards of directors and 49.1% with little or no input from women in their executive ranks.

  • The average number of women per board of directors at:

    • telecommunications companies - 1.2 women
    • printing and publication companies - 2.0 women
    • entertainment companies - 1.2 women
    • advertising companies - 1.0 women


  • The average number of women in the executive levels at:

    • telecommunications companies - 4.0 women
    • printing and publication companies - 3.7 women
    • entertainment companies - 3.6 women
    • advertising companies - 0.3 women


  • The comparison over the past 3 years showed that the percentage of women on boards of directors at telecom companies went from 10% to 11% and back down to 10% in 2003.


  • The comparable 3 year comparison for women in executive leadership ranks at telecom companies went from 11% to 12% up to 15% in 2003.
  • Friday, December 9, 2005

    The Glass Ceiling Commission

    The most important lesson from reading the recommendations of The Glass Ceiling Commission is this -– they didn’t work. As a nation, we have not made substantial progress in over a decade of effort stemming from the commission’s research and reports, spanning 1991 to 1995.

    Sure, business instituted “inclusion” programs and published “diversity statements” in their annual reports and on their web sites. Governments “talked” a great deal about their support of affirmative action and studied women-owned business share of federal contract dollars. Hundreds of women, minority, educational and charitable organizations sponsored free information clinics and mentoring sessions for thousands of other women.

    And a decade passed with essentially zero change. Business still has few women in top corporate positions and on their boards of directors. Universities still have a miserable record of promoting women to the top ranks of tenured positions. Media, advertising, and entertainment industries still hype the “preferred” female as subordinate, slinky, and Stepford. Pick any industry, any sector, or any public administrative domain, and you will find little progress in the 21st Century. The emperor is butt-ass naked.

    In fact, you are more likely to find significant regression back to a 1950’s view of women with Harriet and June once again the poster Moms.

    If we made little or no statistically significant progress in the past decade, could women at least say they learned something in the process? Some did. Many did not.

    Carol Hymowitz, Wall St. Journal columnist did. She coined the expression “the glass ceiling” in 1986 and found from her research – back then – that men in leadership positions “felt uncomfortable” with women in the workplace. In 2005, she reported that she’d also learned that women buy into the stereotypes that society presents to them. She learned that that fact may be a significant explanation of why women have not advanced.

    If women are not expecting much of themselves, then they are fulfilling their own promises. If women fail to demand the education, experience, and opportunity for advancement, then society, the corporate environment, men and the power structure certainly have little motivation to supply it to them. If women insist that “math is so hard”, then math will always be hard.

    Anita Hill learned something. She believed that the legislative and regulatory world were based on truth, equality, and equity. She learned that our laws, our legislation, our political institutions are based on the efforts of “polis” – the people. If you do not have enough people supporting your view, on your side of the aisle, then you will lose your argument or case – even if you might be “right” in the eyes of God.

    Rosa Parks learned something. She learned that the only way to eliminate a true injustice is to stop helping it prevail. She learned that the only way to deal with prejudice is to face it down.

    Many more people did not learn anything in the past decade. Women who expected companies to provide family-friendly work environments did not learn basic economics. If you make it too costly for companies to hire you, companies will not hire you. Companies will go look to the global marketplace to find cheaper labor for whom a job without perquisites is better than no job at all.

    Organizations that awarded companies with “a best place to work” designation did not learn that quotas are quotas, regardless of how you color them. If you make the goal too easy to attain, then most companies will do just the absolute minimum effort necessary to look good in the public press. And they will go no further, once they “win” in the PR race.

    Women’s organizations tried to blend their “feminist” agenda in with other “inclusive” efforts in the hope that that would soften their message and win more hearts by appearing to be “nice girls” after all. By joining with these other “cultural cliques”, women found their message lost among the clamor of gay, lesbian, transgender, black, asian, latina, and native american rights advocates. So, we now “take ALL our children to work” rather than encourage our daughters to pursue excellence in their careers. We dummied down to PC.

    Instead of celebrating the professional success of our female leaders, we hyped female quitters from among the Fortune Top 50 Women. We blared out that “women don’t want power”. We only wrote about female heads of entertainment, technology, food service, or retail corporations when they were fired, imprisoned, resigned, quit to care for a dying parent or spouse, or tossed it all away to support some charitable avocation.

    We ignored the financial and professional success of thousands of hard-working adult women and focused instead on a handful of Yale or Princeton undergraduate girls who say they treasure procreation before they’ve even gotten anywhere near first base in their personal career development.

    An “older and wiser woman” told me the story of how, as a youngster, she and her girlfriends would phone each other and share the answers to the math homework. They’d ace the weekly assignments, then flunk the tests for the obvious reasons. The teacher, who had seen this before, wrote on one of her homework papers, “You are only hurting yourself.”

    Now, in her early 50’s “older and wiser woman” has chosen to return to school and face, alone, the math anxiety challenge that she avoided, decades ago with the support and encouragement of her “girlfriends”.

    If employment opportunities for women are limited by the educational choices they make early in their academic training, there are two choices:

    1. re-invest today in the academic training that women so undervalued when it was free and they were young and

    2. insist that the current generation of young girls do not repeat the cycle of un-enlightened educational choices.

    Why should we advocate the alternative that business, government, or society make more and preferential choices available to those who finally realize that they WERE only hurting themselves?

    The Glass Ceiling Commission’s most prominent conclusions were that “two types of societal barriers . . engender and reinforce a glass ceiling”. These are, first, The Difference Barrier – which is prejudice. And second is The Supply Barrier – which includes all of the jobs, positions, doors, gates, and opportunities to succeed which society has available to people of talent.

    What The Glass Ceiling Commission failed to note was the third factor that exists in the marketplace – The Demand Barrier.

    If tomorrow’s woman (white, black, latina, asian or whatever) wants to tap those jobs and positions; if she wants to challenge those doors and gates; if she wants the benefits of all the opportunities, then she will not simply “wait to be invited to the ball.” She will not merely “hope to be asked to the dance.” She will not wait for somebody to feather her nest or featherbed the job for her.

    Instead, tomorrow’s woman will challenge the prejudice and stop expecting paternalistic (i.e., daddy) or maternalistic (i.e., mommy) preferences, help, assistance, networking, mentoring or however else you want to call pampering, babying and molly-coddling.

    Tomorrow’s woman will simply go get the opportunity that’s right for her and not wait on the sidelines “like a nice little girl.” She will pursue HER opportunity. Just like Black Women do, and Asian Women do, and Latina Women do. And just like men do. Not like they ARE -– but as they perform in the marketplace. Tomorrow’s woman will make their demands of the marketplace, not merely wait for the marketplace to supply it to them.

    If one part of the marketplace treats tomorrow’s woman prejudicially, if even one company does not practice, in fact, the diversity and unbiased behavior that appears in their proxy statements, annual reports, or their advertisements, then women should not buy from that company. Women should not invest in that company. Women should not be willing to work for that company. And if the company, instead, pursues its case in legislation or political action, women should vote with their pocketbooks and economic self interest clearly in mind.

    Because if women continue “enabling behaviors” as they have for the past decade since we once said that “making full use of the nation’s human capital” was “a solid investment”, then we will find ourselves – a decade hence – looking back and wondering,

    “Why am I still at the back of this bus?”

    Tuesday, December 6, 2005

    And Another One Bites the Dust - 3

    Knight-Ridder, the San Jose Newspapers: Publishing & Printing company is looking to be taken over. Will major buyout firms like KKR keep the two female directors or swap out all of the firm’s board?

    Two out of ten of the firm’s directors are women:

    PATRICIA MITCHELL, age 62
    Director since 2002
    President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Broadcasting Service

    Ms. Mitchell has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Public Broadcasting Service, a private, nonprofit corporation whose members are American public television stations, since March 2000. Prior to that she served as President of CNN Productions and Time Inc. Television at Time Warner from 1992 to 2000. Ms. Mitchell serves as a director of Bank of America Corporation and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sundance Institute and the Women’s Leadership Advisory Council of the Kennedy School of Government.

    KATHLEEN FOLEY FELDSTEIN, age 63
    Director since 1998
    President, Economics Studies, Inc.

    Ms. Feldstein has served as President of Economics Studies, Inc., a private consulting firm, since 1987. She serves as a director of Bell South Corporation, Ionics Corporation and BlackRock Closed End Mutual Funds. She is also a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and McLean Hospital.

    Arden Realty, Inc. (NYSE:ARI) is a buyout target of GE Capital. Arden is a self-administered, self-managed REIT that owns, manages, leases, develops, renovates and acquires commercial office properties located in Southern California. Arden is the largest publicly traded office landlord in Southern California, with 116 properties, consisting of 192 buildings and approximately 18.5 million net rentable square feet of office space.

    No big loss of women directors here as there are zero women on the 7 man board of Arden.

    Maxtor (NYSE: MXO)of Milpitas, CA will be bought out by Seagate (Scotts Valley, CA). Another no big loss of women directors: zero women on Maxtor's 6 director board. Maxtor's board asked Paul J. Tufano, it's largest share-holding board member, to resign November 2004 and director Roger W. Johnson died in February of 2005. Three directors were relected in 2005:

    Dr. C.S. Park – CEO, Board Chairman – Director since 1994 – Class I – term expires 2008 – age 57
    Charles F. Christ – Director since 1995 – Class I – term expires 2008 – age 66
    Gregory E. Myers – Director since 2003 – Class I – term expires 2008 – age 54

    Three others had terms expiring in 2006/2007:

    Charles M. Bosenberg – Lead Director – since 2003 – Class III – term expires 2007 – age 56
    Michael R. Cannon – Director since 1996 – Class III – term expires 2007 – age 52
    Charles Hill – Director since 1992 – Class II – term expires 2006 – age 68

    While Maxtor was slowly imploding on itself, San Jose Magazine named it one of the top 44 "best places to work" in Silicon Valley:

    "Maxtor is noted for numerous perks in an article entitled "Benefits beyond the Fringe" in the magazine's November issue -- including health and dental coverage, telecommuting, on-site gym, on-site cafeteria, tuition reimbursement, service awards, employee assistance program, lactation room, dry cleaning, health and wellness seminars, and discount tickets to local attractions. The magazine also cites Maxtor's support of employee volunteerism in paying for four hours per month for workers volunteering at non-profits."

    Monday, December 5, 2005

    And Another One Bites the Dust - 2

    Calpine, the electrical services company based in San Jose, CA is preparing for bankruptcy. This will mean the loss of 3 more women on the boards of directors of California-based Fortune 1000 firms.

    Two directors already have left –- the CEO was outsted by the board (Peter Cartwright, 75 years of age –- Chairman of the Board, President/CEO of Calpine) and the other resigned (Gerald Greenwald, 69 -– Managing Partner, Greenbriar Equity Group)

    Calpine had a 30% share of women on their board: 3 out of 9 directors. In 2005,
    2 of the 3 women ran for re-election to the board.

    - Susan C. Schwab, 50 – President, CEO, University System of Maryland Foundation
    - Susan Wang, 54 – Retired, Former EVP and CFO of Solectron Corp.

    One other woman was to have her terms expire in 2007:

    - Ann B. Curtis, 54 – Executive VP, Vice Chair of the Board, and Corp. Secretary of Calpine

    The remaining directors included:

    - Kenneth T. Derr, 68 – Retired, Former Chair and CEO of Chevron Corp.
    - Jeffrey E. Garten, 58 – Dean, Yale School of Management
    - George J. Stathakis, 74 – CEO, George J. Stathakis & Associates
    - John O. Wilson, 66 – Professor, University of CA, Berkeley

    Maybe Calpine could have used a few more financially savvy women and men on their board of directors rather than so many academicians.

    Friday, December 2, 2005

    OMB Drops CES Data: Women Weep

    Women’s eNEWS (womensenews.org) reported in April 2005 that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was going to eliminate the Women Worker Series from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, a monthly report from payroll data, by gender, of “who worked where.”

    See: (article, by Marie Tessier, WeNews correspondent)

    OMB finally dropped the data on August 5, 2005 on the grounds that tracking women at work was a “burden on employers.” See http://www.bls.gov/ces/cesww.htm

    Tessler's article is entitled, “Agency Flooded with Pleas to Save Data on Women's Work”.

    Wake up, girls! If we want employers and government to keep this data available for analysis, then:

    (1) we will need to be sure that more than our little girl-gangs of non-profit associations are out there demanding that someone retain the data,

    (2) we will need to be in the positions of power, politically and legislatively, to counter those who are making these horrific decisions to drop the information, or

    (3) we will need to be generating the data ourselves as economic entities.

    Or maybe ALL of the above.

    In short, we need to stop this little girl mentality of “Oh, please Big Daddy OMB – save our data! Please, pretty please!!”

    And in its place, we need to substitute the mature, economic female business case that, “If this data is worth something to women in business, then we’re going to make it happen ourselves. Damn it!”