Few women sit on public companies' boards

| Print |  Email
Articles - November 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1111_NoSeatAtTheTable_Graph

The challenges facing women interested in securing a board seat raise the question: How do the men who are making the decisions about corporate strategy, oversight and director positions in Oregon view the issue? Several board leaders, including Patrick Jones, chair of Lattice Semiconductor, and Kurt Widmer, chair of Craft Brewers Alliance, declined to be interviewed for this article. Mentor Graphics, which has an all-male board, also turned down requests for interviews. Other men were more forthcoming, echoing the arguments of female board members regarding the challenges and benefits of putting more women on boards.

“We’re always on the outlook for candidates who will diversify the board,” says Don Graber, chair of Precision Castparts’ eight-member, all-male board of directors. “But we also look for people who have a manufacturing-type background and females are tough to find.”

Columbia Sportswear, one of the seven public companies with two women on its board, “has made great strides in revitalizing its brand,” says Steve Babson, chair of the board’s nominating committee. “That’s attributable to key people in the company, many of whom are women.”

To be sure, many Oregon companies are concentrated in the wood products, manufacturing and other traditionally male-dominated industries. But the list of Oregon public companies without any women on their boards — a list that includes FLIR, Electro Scientific Industries, Premier West Bank, and LaCrosse Footwear — transcends any individual sector. There is no research about gender and financial performance in Oregon.  However, a growing number of studies in Europe show that companies with more female board members outperform those with fewer women, regardless of the type of industry. That research includes a 2007 Finnish study and an analysis of European listed companies conducted by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, both of which found a correlation between the percentage of female board members and improved corporate financial performance.

Decades after the women’s movement and countless women-in-business diversity initiatives, many business leaders agree on the economic and social justice value of increasing women in the boardroom. What still isn’t clear is how to make it happen.

In Europe, policy makers have decided the only solution is regulation. In 2003, Norway was the first country to establish a 40% quota of women on boards, followed by Spain in 2007 and Iceland, which implemented quotas last year. In January, France passed a law requiring that by 2017, women must represent 40% of board members on the largest publicly traded companies. The U.K. is also considering quotas.

 



 

More Articles

Correction: Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

Beneath the Surface

May 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
0515-goodhacker01 250pxwBY LINDA BAKER

On April 1 I attended a forum at the University of Portland on the sharing economy. The event featured panelists from Lyft and Airbnb, as well as Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. Asked about the impact of tech-driven sharing economy services. Hales said the new business models are reshaping the landscape. “But,” he added, “I don’t pretend to understand how a lot of this [technology] works.” 


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


Read more...

Knight Cancer Challenge No Biotech Dream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.


Read more...

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS