According to the 2011 “Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors, Executive Officers and Top Earners,” when it comes to leadership opportunities for women in corporate America, females are no further along the corporate ladder than they were six years ago.
According to the survey, women held only 7.5% of executive officer top-earner positions in 2011, while men accounted for 92.5% of the top earners. In addition, less than one in five companies had 25% or more women executive officers and more than one-quarter had zero.
Prior Catalyst research found that companies with more women in top leadership positions, on average, far outperform those with fewer. In addition, companies with more women board directors are likelier to have more women corporate officers five years later. Gender diversity in the boardroom was also found to lead to better corporate performance. Companies with three or more women board directors in four of five years, on average, outperformed companies with zero women board directors―by 84% return on sales, 60% return on invested capital, and 46% return on equity.
According to Ilene H. Lang, president/CEO Catalyst, it boils down to what companies do that counts.
“Particularly in today’s challenging economy, staying competitive in an increasingly global marketplace requires cultivating fresh perspectives and you don’t get that by perpetuating an ‘all of the same’ leadership model. Catalyst encourages organizations to step up and ensure that talented employees—regardless of gender—have opportunities to advance and contribute. It’s the smart thing and the right thing to do,” Lang said.