Women’s Place Is Still Not in California Corporate Leadership

Thursday, December 25, 2014

In a Message from the Dean (pdf) at UC Davis’s Graduate School of Management last week, Ann Huff Stevens wrote once again about the “disappointing picture” of women in top positions at California’s 400 largest corporations. She wrote with the conviction that, “Keeping the conversation on women in corporate leadership active, and making sure that conversation is well informed by current facts, will surely help accelerate progress.”

This is the tenth edition of the school's  “Census of Women Directors and Highest-Paid Executives” report and, so far, there hasn’t been much acceleration despite the striking numbers. 

Only 12.6% of top corporate executives in California are women, up from 11.7% in 2006. There are three more women CEOs. A little more than one-fourth of the 400 companies have all-male boards. That’s an improvement from last year’s 26.8%.  

Women hold 403 of the 2,837 (12.4%) board of directors seats. The report projects ahead to 2020 using the past three years to sneak an optimistic-looking 19.9% into the report.

High-paid women executives fare worse. A little more than 90% of the 1,868 highest paid execs are men. Only 14 of the 400 have a woman CEO. That’s 3.5%. Fifty have a chief financial officer (CFO).

The report doesn’t make a big deal about CEO compensation because it finds the numbers distrustful. There are only 14 women and the numbers are warped by the large influence a highly-performing company has on CEO compensation. So―discounting for the fact that the few women who made it to the top apparently led highly successful companies―women earned on average $4.8 million annually compared to $3.9 million for men.

The report divides companies into 10 groups by revenue. The top group averages $34.3 billion and the lowest $15 million. The first group’s average revenues are 8.5 times higher than the second-highest group.

Women directors do best at the biggest of the 400 companies, women executives fare best at the smallest. But women execs have their next biggest numbers (still, small compared to men) in the two highest groups. 

Although the aggregated numbers don’t look good, there are companies among the 400 that have gender-balanced leadership—two of them, Annie’s Inc. and Williams-Sonoma Inc. Only 11 of the companies have more than 33% women top leadership positions.

One hundred and four companies tied for last place with zero women.

–Ken Broder  


To Learn More:

25% of California's Largest Companies Have All-Male Boards (by Kimberly Weisul, Fortune)

Little Progress for Women Execs in California’s Top Corporations (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Highest-Paid Executives (UC Davis Graduate School of Management) (pdf)

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