October 29, 2016; No. CCXLVIII

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No. CCXLVIII; October 29, 2016
THIS ISSUE’S HIGHLIGHTS:

I.           WHY ADVERTISING TEAMS MUST BE DIVERSE
II.         WOMEN MARCHING FOR CHANGE – POLAND ARGENTINA, ICELAND

III.        HOW QUOTAS FOR WOMEN DIRECTORS IMPROVE GOVERNANCE
IV.        CWDI OPENS MEXICAN STOCK EXCHANGE
V.         WHO IS TO BLAME FOR CORPORATE CRISES


I. WHY ADVERTISING TEAMS MUST BE DIVERSE

1For the past few decades, advertising agencies have been striving to shed their image as smoke-filled rooms of white men.   However, although women currently fill half of all positions in the advertising industry, they make up only 11% of the most important position — creative directors.   The industry may now be getting the push it needs to bring more women and minorities into lead creative roles as the result of efforts by well-known international brands  – Verizon, General Mills, and HP, for example — have begun to pressure the agencies they work with to bring in more diverse creative teams if they want to maintain their relationship with these companies.

Why?  Because predominantly white male advertising teams may be hindering company efforts to connect with many consumers, who are increasingly diverse.   In a letter to 11 ad agencies, telecommunications giant Verizon gave the firms one month to submit details on how many women and minorities they employed across different roles and in senior leadership and asked for action plans detailing how they would increase those numbers.  “We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce and suppliers represent the communities we serve,” Verizon Chief Marketing Officer Diego Scotti said in the letter.

HP also sent letters to the agencies it employs urging them to hire more women because women buy about half of its computers and printers, while General Mills has said it wanted creative departments it works with to be staffed at least 50% by women and 20% by minorities. (New York Times, “Big Brands Ask Ad Agencies for Action in Diversity Hiring,” 10/1/16)

The Global Summit of Women will feature this topic at its annual Colloquium on Global Diversity: Creating a Level Playing Field for Women, which takes place in New York on February 23-24, 2017 hosted by Time Warner.  To see highlights from the previous Colloquium, visit www.globewomen.org/globaldiversity.


II. WOMEN MARCHING FOR CHANGE – POLAND, ARGENTINA, ICELAND

Women around the world have come together en masse in several countries around the world this past month to protest against social and economic issues affecting women and girls. Utilizing a strategy popular in the 1960s and 70s, women are joining with each other to march as one, sending a strong message through their physical show of solidarity in the push for gender equality.

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Poland

Women in Poland reignited this tactic in early October in their fight for reproductive rights when faced with proposed legislation that would make abortion a criminal act. In solidarity, women in several cities in Poland brought the workday to a halt by refusing to work and marching by the thousands in several cities on the same day to make their opinions heard.  The result? The bill was withdrawn in a victory for women’s economic and reproductive rights.

Argentinian women followed their Polish sisters two weeks later in a march to protest violence against women.

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Argentina

As in Poland, women stopped work for one hour, wore black and marched in the streets of Buenos Aires demanding more protection from government, the judicial system, and the police.   According to a human rights group, 275 women and girls were killed in gender-based violence in the country in the past year.  In addition to protesting the recent rape and killing of a 16-year old girl, the women demanded more measures that would give them more economic opportunities, such as longer maternity leave, more child care options, and equal pay.  In support for their Argentinian sisters and to spotlight the problems in their own countries, women in several countries in Latin America, including Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay, marched as well. (New York Times, “Women in Argentina Rally Against Violence,” 10/20/16)

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Iceland

Icelandic women joined together for their own protest march this week in support of equal pay for equal work.  Citing statistics that women in Iceland earn 14-18% less than men in the country, women left work 14% earlier in the day — exactly at 2:38 pm — to join with one another for a march in the streets.  Even though Iceland is considered a world leader in gender equality, it would still take 52 years to close the gender pay gap at current rates.  The protest echoed the 1975 national protest in Iceland against gender inequalities when all women stopped working for a full day, bringing the country to a standstill. (New York Times, “Women in Iceland Protest Country’s 14% Pay Gap by Leaving Work 14% Early,” 10/25/16)

Showing force in numbers and women coming together to create economic change is one of the reasons the Global Summit of Women takes place annually.  Just announced:

Registration is now open for the 2017 Global Summit of Women held in Tokyo, Japan on May 11-13, 2017.  To be a part of this global gathering and for more on the Global Summit of Women, visit www.globewomen.org/globalsummit


III. HOW QUOTAS FOR WOMEN DIRECTORS IMPROVE GOVERNANCE

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In 2011, Italy passed legislation requiring companies listed on its stock exchange to increase the percentage of women board directors to 33% by the end of 2016.  At the time of passage, the percentage of women on Italian boards was barely 6%.  In five short years, the percentage of women directors has increased five-fold to 30%.  The quota has clearly succeeded in bringing more women into the boardroom, but that is not the only positive result of the quota.

Findings from recent research by professors at Bocconi University show that new women directors had higher education levels than their male peers;  they tended to be younger than other board members, and that the quota spawned a better selection process for the entire board resulting in more qualified board members.  Lastly, the stock market has seemed to welcome the introduction of quotas that created more diverse, better qualified boards resulting in better stock market returns.  Women tend to be seen as less risk-averse, which may account for lesser volatility of share price of Italian companies.  (London School of Economics Business Review, “In Italy’s ‘Male Gerontocracy,’ Gender Quotas Induced the Restructuring of Company Boards,” 10/18/2016)

Italy is just one of 22 countries around the world with a legislative quota for women on boards of publicly-listed or state-owned companies.  To see the other countries with quotas, click here.


IV. CWDI OPENS MEXICAN STOCK EXCHANGE

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Over 140 Mexican women business leaders joined Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) Chair Irene Natividad in opening the Mexican Stock Exchange on September 30 to salute the contributions Mexican women have made to the country’s economy.  Brought together by CWDI, the event marked the first all-women Market Open at the Mexican Stock Exchange and the 17th Market Open organized by CWDI.

The Market Open was followed by a Forum on Women on Boards featuring Mexican and U.S. women directors.  Joining the Forum was Louise Goeser, CEO of Siemens Mesoamerica; Patricia Gonzalez, Global Board Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Blanca Trevino, CEO of Sofftek and Board Director at Walmex;  Paula Santilli, General Manager at PepsiCo Mexico;  and Cari Dominguez, Board Director of Manpower and Former Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

CWDI Chair Natividad released a new CWDI Report at the Forum on “Women Directors of Latin America’s 100 Largest Companies, 2005-2016.”  The report shows that over the past 11 years since CWDI’s first study in the region, the percentage of women board directors has only increased 2.2% in Latin America, from 5.1% to 7.3%. 

“With the wide-ranging female talent on display at the Market Open, companies have no excuse not to have at least one woman on their board,” Natividad said.

To read more key findings of the CWDI report, click here.  For more photos of this and other CWDI Market Opens, visit www.globewomen.org/cwdinet.


V. WHO IS TO BLAME FOR CORPORATE CRISES

7A new Rockefeller Foundation report analyzed news articles to examine how the media portrays male and female CEOs at the time of a corporate crisis.  When the CEO is a woman, 80% of press reports blamed the CEO for a company’s troubles. In comparison, when the CEO is a man, only 31% of articles blamed him for the corporate downturn.  This media driven ‘blame’ coverage has longer-reaching consequences.  Since 2004, no woman fired from her job as CEO of a U.S. Fortune 500 company has ever been re-hired as a CEO.

The fact that women CEOs are more likely to be blamed is related to the ‘glass cliff’ phenomenon, wherein women are more likely to take the helm at troubled companies than men.  Research has shown that 42% of women CEOs were appointed during times of crises, compared to 22% of men.  Women were also forced out of these top jobs more often than men, 38% to 27%.

Clearly, the media influences the public’s perceptions of leaders.  The manner in which it portrays women leaders plays a role in the lack of women CEOs at top companies. (Fortune, “The CEO is to Blame for a Company in Crisis – If It is a Woman,”10/26/16)


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