Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Resolve to Make Things Better

Usually at this time of year we are all full of thoughts about the year past and what we want for ourselves in the year to come.  This year, I resolve to set broader goals and I challenge you to do the same.

Catalyst just released a report entitled Read it and Weep: Women’s Leadership Still Stalled in Corporate America.  Read it.  You will be discouraged. The key statistics:

  • Less than one-fifth of companies had 24% or more women board directors.
  • About one in ten companies had no women serving on their boards
  • Women of color held only 3% of board seats.
  • Women held only 7.5% of Executive Officer top earner positions, while men accounted for 92.5% of top earners.
  • Nearly one in five companies had 25% or more women Executive Officers and more than one-quarter had zero.

The number of women in political office is just as discouraging. The United States ranks 87th in the world in representation of elected women at the national level.  In 2010, for the first time in thirty years, the number of elected women declined. Polls show that young women between ages 18-34 see no reason to vote for women and are abandoning women at the polls.

Change the tenor of the dialogue

But don’t we all agree that the conversations in Washington and in the Boardrooms need to change? Little is getting done in government. Unrealistic budgeting and taxation positions are being staked out by both sides.  But, as the expression goes, sometimes it isn’t about politics – it is just about arithmetic.  Everyone cannot receive handouts and the benefits they want.  Taxes for many have to go up—that is where the money is.

Women and Risk in Business

One of the myths about women in business is that they are risk averse—is this perception due to lower testosterone levels?! Women tend to be more cautious and circumspect, but, wouldn’t a more thorough analysis of risk and possible downside have help the Global Monetary Fund which misplaced over $1 billion this year due to bad bets on the European Economy? How about the bets on the Housing Marketing in 2008?  Wouldn’t a pragmatic view –really, could people suddenly afford new houses – have set off a few warning bells?

What can you do?

Follow the news on products and companies.  Post notes on company websites when you see sexist advertisements and bad behavior. I have upped the number of comments I post on other websites.  Executives who allow basic disrespect of women including tolerance for sexist humor and acceptance of sexual harassment, typically exhibit prejudice against senior women in leadership.

I am actively supporting the Women’s Campaign Fund in 2012, an organization that helps women run for public office.  They support female pro-choice / pro women’s health candidates of both political parties with the idea that more women are needed in office, who represent diverse ideas.  Check WCF out and nominate women to run for office through their She Should Run organization.

Resolve to find your voice in 2012.  Share with us how you plan to do it.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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