A new article from The Huffington Post and Catalyst, an organization aimed at boosting women in business, shows that there is a glaring lack of women in executive positions, even at companies whose products are specifically marketed towards women.
In the article, HuffPo and Catalyst looked at 19 companies that cater mostly to women, including “makeup purveyors, department stores, large-scale consumer goods manufacturers and women-focused clothing companies.” Just one company on their list, Avon, had a board of directors made up of mostly women.
“The situation is similarly dismal,” says the article, “when it comes to the companies’ executive teams or the so-called C-Suite of leaders who make the major business and product decisions at large companies. Out of all the companies, just J.C. Penney has a senior leadership team that’s majority women.”
The lack of women in leadership roles at these companies might help explain the failure of marketing campaigns for products used predominantly by women. The author uses a popular depilatory cream as an example.
“Earlier this year, Veet, the chemical cocktail that gets rid of hair without shaving, was forced to take down an ad that warned women not to risk “dudeness” by having hairy legs, after Internet outrage. (Jezebel saved some of the ads after the company pulled them offline. You can click here to see the ads on Jezebel.)
Veet’s parent company, Reckitt Benckiser Group, has just one woman on its nine-member executive committee.”
Catalyst data shows that women make up more than 50 percent of “management, professional and related workers at major companies,” but less than 15 percent of executive officers.
Some think the lack of women executives is just a result of tradition. “These CEOs are working in their comfort zone,” said Malli Gero, the co-founder of 2020 Women On Boards. “You see this emphasis on all-male boards, even when it’s a company that markets heavily to women.”
Another reason is that some say women don’t “fit the typical image of a leader,” which puts them at a disadvantage in regard to promotions and pay.
Having an all-male board might not be the best idea for companies, though. Data shows that companies that have more women on the board tend to do better in the stock market. A report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute found that “shares of companies with a market capitalization of more than $10 billion and with women board members outperformed comparable businesses with all-male boards by 26 percent worldwide over a period of six years.”
Some of these companies are increasing the number of women in executive roles. For example, Kimberly-Clark, the corporation that manufactures Kotex feminine hygiene products, finds its board now made up of 25 percent women, up from 17 percent in 2009.
The authors are quick to point out, though, that this is “progress, but hardly parity.”
Read the Huffington Post’s full report here.