Thursday, December 27, 2007

Women in Leadership

How do you define “women in leadership”? Usually, it looks something like this: “women who have shown exceptional courage and leadership advocating for women’s rights and advancement.” Frankly, the last women with that kind of leadership credentials won the right for women to vote in 1919. Comparable levels of leadership have been quite rare ever since.

Instead, we have seen a lot of women who would have us believe that, by their association with “advocacy” or “women’s rights,” they ought to be included among that honored group. The few women who actually have done something constructive in that direction have been rather quiet about their achievements: Emily Card or Patsy T. Mink would come to mind. Do you know what they did? As my mother would say, “Go, look it up.”

Do women look at “women in leadership” the same way that men look at “men in leadership?” Apparently not. First of all, men keep copious stats on other men in leadership: from sports to corporate life, men are the data-mongers tracking how the men achieved what they did, how they accomplished meritorious things. Women who keep track of the achievements of women are considered egotistical and self-centered. However, women who keep track of the suffering of women, measures of their victimhood, their “only-ness,” are quoted copiously ad nauseam in the media. How is it possible for women to identify those women whom they could emulate if not by tabulating their endeavors, achievements and all of the reasons to follow in their lead? If women do not track the progress and successes – rather than the failures and suffering -- of women, then how can the next generation know what is worth following?

Do women look at “women in leadership” favorably? Apparently not. It is astounding how much venom is spewed, by female writers, on the characters of female political candidates and the wives of male female political candidates from both sides of the aisles. Such personal invective is reminiscent of the “Lord of the Flies” or the girls in the 7th grade. Bitter, acidic, asp-like, catty. Unpleasant by all measures.

Do women write about “women in leadership” in the same way that men write about “men in leadership?” How much have you read about the bacon and eggs that Mr. Edwards or Mr. Obama have eaten in Iowa? How really relevant are their haircuts or their choice of ties or the lack thereof? What does any of that have to do with their policies, politics, their thinking or their ability to make sound decisions for this nation? The public media discussion about candidates, today, is much more a reflection of the dummying-down that comes from journalists with a very very long history of writing about shampoos, diets, body odor, and personal shopping habits.

Do women know what “women in leadership” even look like? Do women know the difference between entertainment figures and individuals of competence and character? Is Oprah Winfrey really a leader? Or is she a female pied piper, very good at playing the advertising and marketing game that women love to hear and experience? Is Katie Couric a leading news-person or a person very adept at reading news scripts? Are Ms. Winfrey or Ms. Couric any more qualified than Susan Lucci to address international political issues? Wouldn’t Christiane Amanpour, even marginally, be a better source of diverse thinking about contemporary political subjects? Or Andrea Mitchell? Or any one of a hundred other much more qualified women political commentators?

Women in leadership. There are millions of highly competent women in leadership out there. But, you’d never know it from reading your daily newspaper, from listening to typical radio news or watching television, cable, satellite broadcasts. To find women in leadership, you have to turn away from most of that and go search for yourself. Literally.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is “Networking” Important?

Is “networking” an important factor in getting on a corporate board of directors? It depends on what you mean by “networking.”

Networking which is the “ghetto-ization among women-only groups” definitely is not an effective strategy for being named as a public company director. Networking which involves “women’s business advocacy groups” also is not an effective strategy because such collectives tend to be talkers rather than do-ers in the economic marketplace. Boards, above all else, are looking for women who have succeeded in doing something meaningful in the business world – preferably something that matches the skill-sets for which the nominating committee currently is searching.

Boards do not need advocates who have been standing on the sidelines, “cheerleading” and advocating rather than performing on the business playing field.

Women’s groups carry a stigma as more “social” than business. Women’s groups are not a proven mainstream path into executive recognition. Leadership of women’s groups simply has not translated into leadership among economic business activities.

Networking in “charities” has declined as a path into the boardroom over the past decades. Fund-raising is now a business development activity rather than a “social phenomenon.” Many major charitable nonprofit boards have become too large, unmanageable fiscally, non-transparent and economically ineffective (e.g.., United Way, the Red Cross). Some even suggest these groups, as constituted, have become un-leadable and un-governable.

Networking among “professional groups” does provide opportunities to exercise a demonstrable expertise on issue-oriented advisory panels or committees. These venues are where problem-solving expertise is valued within a diverse (i.e., co-ed) committee structure.

Networking among college/university boards of trustees also affords structure and operational parallels to the business world. In those cases where roles and responsibilities related to an expertise that is valued by the business world, such as technology, finance or law, then the trustee experience has transferability. If the campus board is simply a collection of celebrity tokens or a high-worth fund-raising group, the probability of transitioning to a corporate board is less likely today.

Some key factors predicting whether or not “a network” might contribute to the long-term goal of qualifying one for a corporate board role:

- Money is at stake and it matters how much and how well that resource is managed and spent.
- Decisions must be made and the organization benefits from quality choices
- Expertise is valued as a contributor to the deliberations.
- Organization has an impact that is real and substantive.
- Individual contributors are held accountable for their actions and decisions.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More on Nonprofit Governance – 3

Our research into the women directors at California Fortune 1000 firms shows that the fewest women came by way of the nonprofit path. In fact, in 2006 and 2007, the women with “soft-skill backgrounds” tended to be the first to leave the corporate boardroom in the tougher and more demanding accounting environment of the post-Sarbanes-Oxley business world.

Proxy statements, where biographies of directors can be found, give short shrift to the nonprofit work of both men and women. The nonprofit experience exists, it is just likely to be more a personal interest – for men and women – than professional credentials qualifying one to serve on a corporate board.

On average, the women in our sample were on three nonprofit boards each. There was very little overlap among the women’s nonprofit roles: their paths would not be likely to have crossed in the nonprofit boards where they served. Many of the nonprofits were professional organizations related to a business career in technology, finance or law.

The women whom we interviewed told us the value they took from the nonprofit experience. Such committees were coeducational structures. The women differentiated these types of groups from women-only groups which tended to be supportive, focus on encouragement, but not results-oriented.

A common lesson learned from committee works was how effectively to use the group process: how committees work; how they conduct research, analysis and develop policy alternatives about a problem or subject; and how they move the group towards solutions. The women said their committee experience helped to refine their own problem-defining and problem-solving capabilities.

Committees were not simply situations where “one rubbed shoulders” with the social elite. The women developed experience giving testimony, conducting research, analyzing issues, collaborating with professional peers, building alternative strategies, testing them and putting them into effect.

The women cited committee experience as an excellent training in governance and strategic thinking and planning. The women were selected for the committees because their experience and competence added substantive value to the committee deliberations. The women brought innovative insight and perspective from their professional experience, not simply from their gender.

Very few women mentioned gender-oriented organizations which were seen as a narrow constituency. Women do “give back” extensively through speeches to women’s groups. They do not make a big thing of it. They do it quietly and personally.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More on Nonprofit Governance – 2

Women often are told to join a nonprofit board as a pre-requisite for getting on a public company corporate board. Behind that argument stands several factors or beliefs.

1. It is “easier” for women to get named to a nonprofit board of directors because it’s a volunteer position.

2. Nonprofit goals and objectives are more consistent with women’s priorities and preferences.

3. Women feel more “comfortable” on nonprofits because more women are on nonprofit boards.

4. Women feel more “at ease” on nonprofit boards because they are not as concerned with making and managing money.

5. Nonprofit boards provide an introduction to the hard work required of boards.

6. Nonprofit boards provide a good training ground to learn about governance, committee work, teamwork, delegation and leadership.

7. The liability or risks associated with nonprofit boards are less than that in the corporate world.

8. Nonprofit board service allows women director candidates opportunities to get out of their daily grind and become better known among decision-makers.

9. Nonprofit boards provide opportunities for women leadership candidates to network with male philanthropic leaders who dominate corporate boards of directors.

If there were more women serving on corporate boards of directors, then these arguments would suggest that that is where most corporate boards would search and find more top quality women candidates for public company boards of directors.

It has not happened. There are more women than ever before on nonprofits, yet those are not the women who are being selected for the for-profit corporate director roles.

It stretches the imagination to conclude that nonprofit boards could provide relevant training experience for shareholder-owned, higher-risk, profit-driven, globally-competitive, employee and public policy stakeholder-drive public company governance boards. They are in two entirely different economic spheres.

True, women and men of money and power will rub shoulders in nonprofit halls and gathering. Does shoulder-rubbing qualify as competency-building? Does one learn governance by association? Is fund-raising, today, the necessary pre-requisite for audit, nominating or governance committee performance? No, not very likely.

So, we might question why we would continue to hear the argument, “Get thee to a nonprofit board?” Do the women who suggest this hypothetical “easy” path into the boardroom believe what they are suggesting? Do they have a factual basis for this recommendation? Or perhaps they are spouting off “old wives’ tales?” Or worse, is it possible they are telling young women to pursue a fickle path in order to save the real golden opportunities for themselves?

There is no cheap and easy way to qualify for a director role on a public company today. That is true for women as well as for men. Why are women still being sold that bill of goods? Why are women still selling this hype and why are women buying it?

There is a difference between those who advocate that “more women ought to be directors” and those who advocate that “more women become qualified to be directors.” The first are zealots and activists, expecting someone else to do all the heavy work to make this problem go away. The second are educators, researchers and advisers who know and understand the economics of the director and governance marketplace -– and who believe it could be enhanced by greater competition and participation on the part of the right business actors.

It’s difficult to believe that anyone would think that there is any easy path into a board of director role in the post-Sarbanes-Oxley environment. Are women really lazy? Or do they just believe that it can’t be THAT hard to be a director on a corporate board if men can do it?

Are women buying the hype because they are taking the same “lifestyle” approach to governance as many women are taking toward entrepreneurship? It’s easy to start a business, but it’s extremely hard to grow a business into a successful corporate enterprise. The same is true of governance. It’s easy to play at being on a nonprofit board, but it is extremely complex and intricate to participate on a sizeable public company board and on their committees.

Do women understand what governance actually is? Have they experienced the need for strategic oversight? Are women willing to delegate certain responsibilities to someone else the task of overseeing their entire business? Do women understand the concept of “moral hazard”? Do they have extensive experience as business leaders? Do they have they the perspective of a solo CEO leading a large, global entity?

There is no doubt in my mind, based on interviews with the women who do serve on public company boards today, that women can understand and perform exceptionally well as public company corporate directors. However, the women who do so did not get there by a quick and easy path. Certainly, many of them did contribute to their communities, cultural interests and colleges by service on nonprofit boards. What distinguishes them from their “wannabe sisters” is that they made it into the corporate boardroom the old fashioned way: they earned it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

More on Nonprofit Governance - 1

We keep hearing from women that the nonprofit path is their preferred path to leadership. The research suggests that that may not be the case for women who aspire to positions of achievement and accomplishment.

The Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy published a new report on nonprofit governance, performance and accountability in 2007.[1] The report had a special chapter on the representation by women on nonprofit boards.

Ninety-four (94) percent of all nonprofit boards have at least one woman director. That is about the same as the S&P500 public companies: 91%, according to Spencer Stuart’s 22nd Annual Board Index. (October 2007).

Nonprofit boards average 46% women, but most women serve on the smaller nonprofit boards: women were 50% of the directors on nonprofits with expenses under $100,000/year but only 29% of the directors on nonprofits with expenses over $40 M. “These findings are consistent with the contention that women are less likely to serve on boards of large and prestigious nonprofits.” [2]

Nonprofit boards which emphasized “financial skills and reputation in the community as recruitment criteria were negatively associated with the percentage of women.” Instead, women tended to favor cultural nonprofits, those in the health field, and those that relied upon endowment funding.

If women want to use nonprofit governance as a stepping stone to a public company board role, then women will need to select larger, more prestigious nonprofits, they will need to pursue those boards that are looking for financial skills and professional reputation, and they will need to take on the leadership role at those nonprofits -– not just join and sit back in the corner and look good.




[1] Nonprofit Governance in the United States: Findings on Performance and Accountability from the First National Representative Study, Francie Ostrower, The Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, 2007 (page 19)

http://www.urban.org/publications/411479.html

[2] Ostrower, Francie, and Melissa Stone. 2006. “Boards of Nonprofit Organizations: Research Trends, Findings, and Prospects for the Future.” In The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook, Second Edition, edited by Walter W. Powell and Richard Steinberg (612–28). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Side-Stepping?

As you read the words of Douglas M. Branson, in his book No Seat at the Table: How Corporate Governance and Law Keep Women Out of the Boardroom (New York University Press: 2006), you are likely to get depressed and discouraged if you are an aspiring and talented female in business.

Part I of his book pulls together all of the negative stereotypes as to “why can’t women?” Entitled “Glass Ceilings, Floors, and Walls,” it conveys the physically intimidating sense that women are trapped in some tiny dungeon not of their own making. Mr. Branson asserts that, if women don’t get screwed by the myths from the males, they can count on those from their sisters. He itemizes the offenses from court cases fixing the glass ceiling into place all the way to “bully broads, iron maidens, queen bees and ice queens.”

In Part II, Mr. Branson brings in the “special advice” that promises to assure women a place at the table: mentors, networking, that “special, right, perfect job or career path.” Then he crushes the reader, all again, with his simplistic conclusion that the only women to become corporate board members are tenured professors of Harvard, celebrities or relatives of some corporate leader.

His special weapon is “side-stepping” into the boardroom: taking a career detour away from an apparent unsuccessful route back into the boardroom. As an example, he mentions Aulana L. Peters:

“Particularly fruitful have been sidesteps by women commissioners of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. . . Commissioner Aulana Peters… sidestepped to a major law firm (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher) and corporate boards at Merrill Lynch (53), Northrup-Grumman (58), 3-M Corp. (105), and John Deere & Co. (106).” [page 105]

This is a good example of why underling researchers should not be counted upon to delve into proxy data unescorted or allowed to reach conclusions without wise oversight and supervision. “Particularly fruitful” suggests that many women have or could use this path into the boardroom. Yet, in the entire 63 year history of the SEC, there have been only 8 women commissioners. Aulana L. Peters was the 3rd and was a Democrat named by one of the most conservative Republican Presidents (Reagan) ever. [1]

Mr. Branson suggests Ms. Peters simply tippy-toed back to a law firm position from her token SEC commissioner role and that, in its entirety, explains why she became a corporate director on top Fortune firms. Mr. Branson and his legal eagles need to go back and look at Ms. Peters’ entire life story where they will find that it is one of skill, experience, accomplishment, endurance, and leadership in every undertaking she approached.

Ms. Peters was born November 30, 1941 in Shreveport, LA. She earned a B.A. degree in 1963, majoring in Philosophy with a minor in science, from the College of New Rochelle, NY -- a Catholic women’s liberal arts college. After college, she was an English correspondent and speechwriter (1965 - 1966) and then an administrative assistant (1966 - 1967) for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She married Bruce F. Peters, a medical doctor. She returned to law school and received her JD from the University of Southern California in 1973, at which time she joined the Los Angeles law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as an Associate specializing in corporate litigation. She was named a partner of the firm in 1980, continuing to develop a special expertise in securities fraud litigation and accounting liability through her representation of accounting firms.

In April 1984, President Ronald Reagan named her as one of the Democratic Commissioners on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). She stayed on the commission until July 1988. As an indication of the caliber of her work at the SEC, the Association of SEC Alumni nominated Ms. Peters in 2003 to receive the William O. Douglas Award for outstanding contributions to the development of securities laws and to the SEC community and the financial community.[2] Her 31 speeches as Commissioner demonstrate her willingness to discuss and debate some of that era’s most challenging questions.[3]

After her SEC term, she returned to the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in 1988 where for the next twelve years, she continued as a partner until her retirement on December 31, 2000.

The sequence of board nominations followed her return to the law firm, but they resulted primarily from her years of experience as a highly-value securities litigator, her insight into accounting liability, and her special expertise developed as counsel for auditors and accountant firms. She was espousing tougher new accounting regulations and self-governance within the business boards where she served.

From 1988 to 1996, Ms. Peters was a director of IDS Mutual Funds until it was taken over by American Express Mutual Funds.

She became a director of 3M Co. and 3m Health Care Ltd. in 1990. Two years later, she was named a director of Northrop Grumman Corp. and of Mobil Corp. (where she remained until its merger with Exxon Corp. in 1999).

In 1994, she became a director of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., a General Partner of Merrill Lynch Preferred Capital Trust I, II, III, IV, V & VI and Merrill Lynch Preferred Funding I, II, III, IV, V, and VI LPs.

From 1994 to 1997, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange. She was a member of the New York Stock Exchange's Market Regulatory Advisory Committee from 1996 to 1997.

She was a director of Callaway Golf Company from 1996 to June 6, 2001.

In 1997, she was became a member of the Board of Directors of Community Television for Southern California (KCET).

From 1998 to 2000, she was a member of the Legal Advisory Board of the National Association of Securities Dealers. From January 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002, she was a member of the Public Oversight Board Panel (POB) of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA); a member of the Steering Committee for the Financial Accounting Standards Board's (FASB) Financial Reporting Project, and a member of the POB's Blue Ribbon Panel on Audit Effectiveness.

At this point, her expertise as an accomplished accounting and securities litigator was widely recognized. Even though she could have perched atop the POB Panel and preened, she actually testified that, “blue ribbon” or not, her conscience persuaded her that the POB was not the best way to ensure effective oversight of audits. She supported the SEC’s more stringent regulations for auditors and audit work under the new post-Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). It was a tough stance, going against the grain of law and accounting insiders, but it was typical of the courage she exhibited throughout her career. Today, she continues to serve as a member of the U.S. Comptroller General's Accountability Advisory Panel.

In August 2002, she became a director of Deere & Co., serving as a Member of Audit Review and Pension Plan Oversight Committees.

In 2005, she was named a member of the International Public Interest Oversight Board which oversees the standard setting process of the International Federation of Accountants for auditing, assurance, independence and ethics standards.

She has also been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations for a number of years.

“Side-steps” indeed. Ms. Peters career path commenced with a securities law background, was enhanced by a partnership role at a major law firm, followed by selection as an important securities oversight commissioner, returned to a top tier corporate securities and accounting law practice and finally capped by peer recognition of investment fund advisory directorships, corporate boards, professional boards, oversight boards at the national and the international levels.

By trivializing the very substantive contributions made by women directors and women of accomplishment, such as Ms. Peters, Mr. Branson slots women of achievement into tight little boxes of behavior of which he and his ilk “approve.” Mr. Branson suggests that women should do this “side-step” or some similar dance that is different from the performance that every other individual of accomplishment and achievement must follow into the boardroom. Ms. Peters performed “the old fashioned way,” and she made it to the top on the merits.

Mr. Branson is encouraging women to remain tokens, subordinates, victims and otherwise erratic losers in just about every business venue imaginable. One highly revealing paragraph is his statement that:

“men isolate the women (or other token) further by reminding the token of the differences that the men deem to exist. Even if the men do so benevolently, out of a sincere wish to put the women at ease and to treat them appropriately (“let me get that for you,” “that might not be safe for a woman”), the effect is the same. By its actions, the dominant group has demarcated even more clearly the boundary that exists between the token and the group.” [emphasis added; page 117].

No thank-you, Mr. Branson. I choose not to accept your demarcation that such boundaries even exist, let alone limit women of achievement from their highest possible goals. I’d really rather read about the Complete and Real Lives of Real Women like Ms. Peters and how they made it into the boardroom, head held high, eyes forward and proud.




Notes:

[1] SEC Historical Summary: Commissioners http://sec.gov/about/sechistoricalsummary.htm

Women Commissioners of the U.S. SEC:

Carter administration:
Roberta S. Karmel (D) 9/30/77 - 2/1/80
Barbara S. Thomas (D) 10/21/80 11/11/83

Reagan administration;
Aulana L. Peters (D) 6/11/84 7/8/88
Mary L. Schapiro (I) 12/5/88 10/13/94

Clinton administration:
Laura S. Unger (R) 11/5/97 1/25/02

George W. Bush administration:
Cynthia A. Glassman (R) 1/28/02 7/14/06
Annette L. Nazareth (D) 8/04/05
Kathleen L. Casey (R) 7/17/06

[2] http://www.secalumni.org/bios/Peters_Bio.htm
and SEC Historical Society Interview with Aulana Peters Conducted on November 7, 2005, by Kenneth Durr:
http://www.sechistorical.org/collection/oralHistories/interviews/peters/peters110705Transcript.pdf

[3] Speeches by SEC Commissioner Aulana L. Peters: 1984-1987
http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/speecharchive/2006speech.shtml

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Why Premium Pricing for Women Directors?

Some people are surprised to read The Corporate Library’s findings that there’s a 14% markup on women directors’ compensation. What are the possible explanations?

Paul Hodgson, Senior Research Associate, The Corporate Library reported:

“Our latest annual survey of director compensation found that individual director total compensation rose by a median of just over 12% between 2005/6 and 2006/7. The study, the largest of its kind covering more than 25,000 directors at over 3,200 companies, found that median total compensation was [$104,375 for male board members and $120,000 for female board members]. More than 80 directors earned over $1 million for a single board seat. Data for the 2007 study was based on proxies filed through October 2007.”

Mr. Hodgson wondered what the basis for the 14% differential might be.

“While companies may be clamoring to inject diversity into their director ranks, the reason for the difference in pay likely [cannot] be attributed to competition over qualified candidates, Paul Hodgson says. Generally, basic cash fees and stock grants are similar for a board's members. ‘There's very little leeway given to bumping up compensation for individual directors,’ Hodgson says. ‘You can't offer more to a diversity candidate just because they're a diversity candidate.’”

The Google experience might provide insight. The two women, Ann Mather and Shirley M. Tilghman, receive more than their peers. The first reason might be Google’s policy that “we typically grant equity awards to new non-employee directors when they commence service as a member of our board of directors.” Later arriving directors are benefiting from a higher current value of stock and option awards, while directors named earlier have already cashed out their benefits.

Ann Mather - $1,098,975 in Stock Awards(5); $605,604 in Option Awards(5); $1,704,579 for Total.
(5) Ann Mather held options to purchase 12,000 shares of Class A common stock and 3,760 Google Stock Units.

Shirley M. Tilghman - $888,516 in Stock Awards(7); $431,182 in Option Awards(7); $1,319,698 for Total.
(7) Shirley M. Tilghman held options to purchase 12,000 shares of Class A common stock and 4,800 Google Stock Units.

A second consideration is the specific committee assignments. Many newly appointed women directors are being added as the “financial expert” and are serving on audit committees. Are women more willing to be the “SOX cop” on the board than men?
Director compensation rewards those who are more willing to serve on multiple committees. Are there more women willing to serve on more committees?

At Google, Ann Mather is a member of the Real Estate Committee, is Chair of the Audit Committee and an audit committee financial expert. If Google gives higher compensation to Audit Committee members, and to the Audit Chair in particular, then she would earn that additional benefit. Shirley M. Tilghman is one of two members of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, which does not have a chairman.

A third consideration is competition for scarce resources (diversity on the board). There IS a short supply of women candidates who are able and competent (vs. just “wanna bes”) for board roles. Thus, competition is high for the most valued candidates.

One piece of evidence that there’s a shortage is the “doubling up” phenomenon. When there’s a scarcity, the few resources try to spread themselves thinner over the available demand. The Norwegians are learning this firsthand. After the country mandated that public companies bring on more women directors or else be de-listed, Norwegian firms put women onto multiple boards of directors in order to meet the national requirements. The same “doubling up” practice happened in the U.S. in the late 1970s and 1980s when there were fewer women with the experience to be directors.

Another measure of the shortage comes from executive/director search firms. Spencer Stuart’s 2006 survey of Fortune 200 firms found that 54% of public company boards were searching for women directors; a year later, that percent increased to 70%. But the percentages have not changed dramatically over the past 2-3 years: only about 19% of F200 directors and 15% of F500 directors actually are women.

Since there are few women CEOs (only 26 among all the Fortune 1000 firms), there are few women retired CEOs, so the few of them that exist might encounter increased “bidding up” of their compensation or doubling up of their board assignments.

Other explanations may relate to regional effects: (1) more women have been added to California boards than to firms in other regions, (2) California has a higher than average cost of doing business (3) CA boards may have higher than average board compensation. The first point is shown by our summary of press releases announcing women to corporate boards in 2007 (as reported by NewsOnWomen.com). Of course, the CA lead could be due to Silicon Valley churning out more new companies on average, or it could be that CA companies churn out more press releases on average.

One final consideration might draw upon another study conducted by The Corporate Library, which found that when compensation consultants are involved in the process, average compensation tended to rise comparatively speaking. If women use compensation consultant more in their negotiations with boards, compared to male directors, that might be an additional explanation.

The compensation study from The Corporate Library gives us lots of food for thought about what’s going on in the women on board marketplace. Most of all, it is quality research like this that compels us to look at the realities of the economics involved, not simply the trivial or token issues and debates that have dominated the matter for the past 20 years.




Notes:

Director Pay 2006–2007 by Paul Hodgson, Senior Research Associate, The Corporate Library (November 2007)

The Effect of Compensation Consultants: A Study of Market Share and Compensation Policy Advice by Alexander Higgens, The Corporate Library in October, 2007

http://www.thecorporatelibrary.com/info.php?id=86

Businessweek:
“Surprise! Women on the Board Earn More: A recent study shows that in corporate boardrooms, female directors actually make more than their male counterparts” by Jena McGregor; November 8, 2007

http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/nov2007/db2007118_811986.htm?chan=careers_managing+your+board+page_top+stories

Reuters
“Female U.S. Corporate Directors Out-Earn Men: Study” by Martha Graybow; : November 7, 2007

http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN0752118220071107?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews&rpc=22&sp=true