Women still have a long way to go
before achieving parity with their male counterparts in the
workplace, according to a new report released by The Conference
The Executive Action Report is based on the views of a diverse
group of business executives and organizations participating at
The Conference Board's 2003 Women's Leadership Conference in New
Despite progress in recent years, significant gender gaps
persist, the report reveals. Only 15.7 percent of the directors
in Fortune 500 companies are women, according to Catalyst. In
Europe, women hold only 3 to 4 percent of all senior executive
The Conference Board; Author of the report
"Women executives suffer from inequities in a variety of areas,
ranging from wages to representation on boards and corporate
officer ranks, to attitudes about networking and job
opportunities. Leaders and companies attempting to bridge the
gender gap point to several barriers standing in the way of
achieving parity, including work-life balance challenges, a lack
of awareness among senior executives, and inadequate networking,
mentoring and visibility opportunities."
The report cites this year's Business Leadership Index of The
Committee of 200 (C200), which measures women's clout in
business and concludes that "women business leaders continue to
show slow, but steady and determined progress toward parity with
men in major spheres of influence within the business world."
"But we are still less than halfway to parity," the C200 says.
"Women entered the workforce in droves in the 1970s, and after
30 years of significant participation in the American business
arena, we still have a long way to go ... If the current trends
were to continue, businesswomen would still need a minimum of
two more decades to reach an equal footing on all fronts with
their male counterparts."
"The fact that there's still a gender-wage gap is inexcusable
and really a black eye for corporate America," says Connie K.
Duckworth, chair of C200. "In my mind, there's no reason to have
"We still have significant challenges," says Sally Helgesen, an
author and expert on the role of women leaders in the knowledge
economy. "In the 1990s it seemed that women would have
increasingly larger roles in their organizations but women's
progress is not as rampant as had been predicted."
Research by WFD Consulting cited in the report shows that many
women have been stifled at work because they must juggle family
responsibilities to a far greater extent than men. Working women
are almost twice as likely to have spouses who work full-time,
while men are far more likely to have spouses who work only
part-time or do not hold down jobs outside the home.
The report offers solutions for putting women on an equal
footing, ranging from more aggressive awareness campaigns and
stronger mentoring and networking programs to a genuine
endorsement of work-life balance, gender-neutral processes, and
accountability for achieving specific, measurable objectives.
Other research covered in the report was conducted by
Christenson Hutchison McDowell (CHM) Partners International LLC,
Right Management Consultants, the Women's Global Business
Alliance and DiversityInc.com. Sources included in the report
represent a variety of other corporations and consulting
organizations, including BMO Financial Group; Cambridge Hill
Partners, Inc.; the Center for Creative Leadership; Eisai, Inc.;
Engelhard Corporation; Ernst & Young LLC; Fine Line Consulting,
Inc.; The Johnsson Group, Inc.; Pope and Associates, Inc.;
Spherion Corporation; and Steuben Glass.
The Conference Board will be offering several other conferences
this year on diversity and leadership issues, including The 2003
Annual Diversity Conference ("Diversity Leadership: Enhancing
Business Performance by Building upon Diverse Talent") May 19
through 21 in New York and June 9 through 11 in Chicago,
"Achieving High Performance Organisations through Strategic
Leadership" Conference in London May 21 and 22 and "Women in
Leadership: A European Business Imperative" in Geneva June 17
and 18. For more information, visit The Conference Board's
Source: Bridging the Gaps ... Putting Women on
an Equal Footing
The Conference Board, Executive Action Report No. 53
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