December 1, 2014; No. CCXXIV

No. CCXXIV; December 1, 2014


Two top executives presenting at the 2015 Global Summit of Women, scheduled for May 14-16, 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil are Donna Hrinak, who leads Boeing Brazil and Rosa Garcia, who heads up Siemens Spain.  Both bring a stellar background to corporate leadership in non-traditional careers for women.

Donna Hrinak, CEO of Boeing Brazil, and Rosa Garcia, CEO of Siemens Spain, are two of the women leaders presenting at the 2015 Global Summit of Women

A career in foreign service in the United States led Donna Hrinak to serve as Ambassador to several countries in Latin America — Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic — and as Assistant Secretary of State for the Caribbean and Mexico.  Her distinguished tenure earned her the US government’s Distinguished Public Service Award.  After her last ambassadorial assignment, she shifted to a private sector career, first at Kraft Foods in Corporate public affairs, then to PepsiCo, where she was Vice President for Global Public Policy and Government Affairs, and currently at Boeing Brazil as its President.  At the May Summit, she will present on Boeing’s efforts to expand its global supply chain by including women-owned enterprises.

Participating at the Summit’s CEO Forum, Rosa Garcia of Siemens Spain, brings a solid corporate career with over 20 years in the IT world beginning at Microsoft in 1991, where she worked to develop the company’s worldwide strategy reporting directly to former CEO Steve Ballmer.  At one point, she was Corporate Worldwide General Manager, then President of Microsoft Iberica, followed by her appointment as Vice President for Western Europe for the Consumer and Online Division covering 14 countries.  She brings this extensive experience to lead Siemens Spain, which she joined in 2011.  CEO, mother of three, and a board director in two other companies, Rosa Garcia will bring to the Summit’s CEO Forum a rich journey to corporate leadership. (For more information on the 2015 Global Summit of Women, log on to  Note that early-bird registration for the Summit is open until the end of 2014.)


A new study by Harvard Business School shows why there are so few women like Donna Hrinak and Rosa Garcia, who are at the helm of corporate entities.  The HBS research attempted to find an answer to women’s continuing absence at the highest reaches of U.S. corporate leadership by reaching out to 7,000 alumni to gauge their career and life goals.  The study found that women and men begin with the same expectations of a high-achieving career with meaningful, satisfying work as well as fulfilling personal lives.   Unfortunately, women’s goals are mismatched with what actually happens, even among the best educated and most privileged among women.

The findings indicate that men expect their careers to take precedence over that of their spouses’, whom they also feel would take the lion’s share of child care.  That is exactly what happens.  Women expect that their careers would be as important as their husband’s, and that these partners would share child care equally, but whether through workplace norms, public policy, or men’s practices, neither turns out to be true.  The result — 57% of men end up in senior management compared to only 41% of women.  Among the relatively few —11% — who leave their job to take care of their children, most did not do so by choice, indicating that they were pushed out by employers who stigmatized mothers.  (Source: New York Times, Claire Cain Miller, “When Women’s Goals Hit a Wall of Old Realities”, 11/30/14)

The most common but unstated perception about working mothers is that they will be less focused and therefore less productive.  Another study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found the exact opposite.  In the course of a 30-year career, working mothers outperformed childless women, with the most productive being mothers with two children.  The research was undertaken to see the impact of having children on highly skilled women.  Among men, those with two or more children were also more productive than those who are childless or had only one child.  Perhaps having more than one child requires a higher level of organization skills among workers who, in turn, bring those skills to work.  (Source: Washington Post, Ylan Q. Mui, “Over a Career, Moms May Get More Done,” 10/31/14)


The U.S. is one of few developed economies that does not offer paid paternity leave.  Only 14% of employers provide such a benefit, which ranges from one week of paid leave to more generous periods offered in Silicon Valley – 4 months at Facebook and 8 weeks at Yahoo.  Whatever amount of time is offered, most new fathers only take one or two weeks, according to a report from Boston College’s Center on Work and Family.  The reason – many fear the stigmas against men who take paternity leave.  (Source:  Washington Post, Jena McGregor, “Happy Father’s Day, Get Back to Work”, 7/15/14)

This fear is well-founded – unwritten workplace norms discourage men from taking paternity leave.  According to the Society of Human Resource Management, the percentage of U.S. companies that offer this benefit has declined five percentage points between 2010 and 2014, indicating that employers may not see the value to the company.  Fathers who do take advantage of parental leave benefits end up suffering the “motherhood penalty” – reduced earnings similar to what happens to women workers who become mothers.  When men reduced their hours for family reasons, they lost 15.5% of earnings in the course of their careers.  They also received worse job evaluations and lower raises.  Studies show that men taking family leave risk being demoted or laid off, because they are seen as having traits associated with working mothers – weakness and uncertainty, as opposed to competitiveness and ambition, which are seen as masculine traits.

This negative career impact is off-set for fathers taking parental leave with better relationships with their children and increased earnings for their wives, who are able to return to work sooner.  However, workplace culture is slow to change.  Even companies with generous paid leave policies have to persuade their male employees to take the full time off.  European countries with generous paternity leave policies had to threaten loss of paid leave if families did not take advantage of this benefit.  (New York Times, Claire Cain Miller, “The Leave Seldom Taken”, 11/9/14).


Women remain significantly underrepresented in senior public sector leadership positions across most G20 countries, as well as similarly underrepresented in parliaments and ministerial positions, according to Ernst and Young’s latest Worldwide Index of Women as Public Sector Leaders report.  In fact, only five G20 countries have a third or more women in senior leadership roles across the public sector: Canada (45.9%), Australia (39.2%), South Africa (38.1%), the United Kingdom (36.2%) and Brazil (33.8%).

Although the overall percentages remain low, the percentages of women in public sector leadership positions increased in 15 of the 20 countries from 2013 to 2014.The report attributes the application of quotas and other policies encouraging affirmative action in developed markets as the impetus for the increases.  For example, in France, a quota on the number of women in senior posts introduced in 2012 is beginning to make an impact — the percentage of women senior public leaders in the country increased from 21% to 25% in the past year.

The report also highlights the growing discrepancy that despite an underrepresentation of women in the leadership posts, women are conversely well-represented in lower-level positions.  Social expectations and norms, as well as discrimination are cited as reasons for women not reaching leadership levels at the same rate as their male counterparts despite equal access to education and equal participation in the labor market.  “If we are to see improvements in the representation of women in public leadership positions, we need a pipeline of talented women in more junior posts — or even outside of governments,” according to EY’s Global Vice Chair Uschi Schreiber.  “If diversity is to be achieved and maintained governments must consider the pipeline of talent coming into an organization as well as how to retain those who do make it to the top.” (Source: EY Press Release, “Women Remain Underrepresented in Senior Public Sector Leadership Posts Across G20 Countries,” October 23, 2014)

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France’s Minister for Women, Cities, Youth, and Sports Najat Vallaud-Belkacem hands over the Summit to Brazilian delegates at the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Summit in Paris.

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