As a fan of the smart work of UltraViolet and a bridge builder across generations, I was pleased to hear how some baby boomers helped make the start-up investment to mobilize the platform. Ultraviolet has been a critical new leader addressing and mobilizing women’s rights issues with fact based online activism. Many were energized in reading the Huffintonpost.com article, “How Women Spiked Larry Summers and Made Janet Yellen the Most Powerful Person in the World,”. This case study is a good example of how UltraViolet, the National Organization of Women, the Women Donors Network and a number of other invested people banded together to support women’s leadership at the highest level.
The theme of women SUPPORTING each other needs a bigger spotlight and stage. This particular movement focused on creating the conditions for Janet Yellen to be nominated and then approved by Congress as the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This accomplishment is a testament to the ability of collaborative advocacy to cause great shifts in the dominant paradigm of our society. At Imagine Philanthropy, we offer a special thanks and kudos to the women and supportive men who executed a strategy to place the best candidate in a position that will have a lasting impact on our nation and the world.
Organizing, connecting and representing the interest of creating opportunities for women’s voices and places of leadership is work for us all. Women hold only 20% of the seats in the U.S. Senate; only 18% of the U.S. House of Representatives is comprised of women. Around 40 countries have or are introducing gender quotas in elections to national parliaments, either by means of constitutional amendment or by changing the electoral laws (legal quotas). In more than 50 countries major political parties have voluntarily set out quota provisions in their own statues (party quotas). Germany and Japan have recently introduced quotas similar to Norway in corporate board seats.
Catalyst has demonstrated that companies with three or more women on their boards outperform those without women by 53% return on equity. Again, the actual representation of women on boards and CEO positions is incredible low. Fortune 500 companies report a 17% representation of women seated on Boards of Directors (a figure that has remained steady in that range for decades) and merely 22 (4%) of women hold the position of CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Janet Yellen and recently, the CEO of GM Mary Barra, have made way for women stepping into leadership and their presence alone is impacting the media imagery onslaught of white men in power. Obviously, in the U.S., we need constant mobilization and movement building to increase the representation of women in all positions of leadership. Consider your own personal commitment to this effort: Who do you know that possesses great leadership aptitude and could be supported and encouraged? Who will you actively SPONSOR by making key introductions, inviting along to key events, setting up meetings with experts who can inform and educate to further develop individual talents? How will you create the right environment for women’s leadership to seed, grow and produce results? Keep us posted on your success in this arena!!!