CHICAGO -- Women make 85% of household purchasing decisions. Women give twice as much as men to charity. And women are a majority of college students.
But one area where women are being left behind is in corporate America, said Aditi Mohapatra, Senior Sustainability Analyst at Calvert Investment Management, at the Women Advisors Forum here Monday.
Mohapatra’s presentation was titled, “Why aren’t we there yet?” and that question hung in the air as she spoke. “It is known that diversity contributes to a company’s performance. Female CFOs tend to be more conservative in financial reporting practices. A recent study of French companies found those with more women in management roles prior to the recession fared better than those that didn’t. Despite all the good evidence it is surprising that women are not treated equally in the workplace.”
How do we know women aren’t treated equally? It’s seen in the wage gap, said Mohapatra. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. On average the impact the wage gap has on a woman across her lifetime is over $400,000, she added.
Yet a number of companies aren’t doing enough in this area. Looking at the top 100 companies in the U.S., women make up only 18% of corporate boards and 8% of those in the C-suite. “Women in the C-suite are really an area where we are not seeing gains,” she said. “At this rate, it will take until 2070 to reach parity with men. It’s a real challenge.”
Part of the problem, Mohapatra explained, is that companies don’t look “beyond the bowl,” meaning they are looking at the same old boys’ network and not looking outside that network for smart, capable women. A refrain Mohapatra often hears is that there aren’t women applying for top-level positions or corporate boards. Not true, she said. Companies aren’t looking outside the box.
"We need to change that," she said. "It’s good for society and it’s good for business."