WWL>Topics>>11-4 1:10pm Angela, Women in Corporate America

11-4 1:10pm Angela, Women in Corporate America

Nov 4, 2013|

Why aren’t more women on boards of directors? There’s a major national campaign to increase the number to 20% by 2020. Angela spoke with Louisiana women who have very strong feelings about this? Donna Fraiche, Chair of the Women's Initiative of Baker Donelson, Janice Guido, Chapter Committee for ...

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Happy Monday everyone and won a glorious weekend it was we won't talk about the saints continue to do much better next week. But we have a wonderful Monday -- showed Zimmerman to begin with one that's kind of near and dear to my heart. The power of corporate America isn't just made up of company presidents and vice president's. Real power is often found on the boards of directors. For too long these boards have been primarily made up of men not reflecting the diversification of our society. And not reflecting the buyers and 80% of products women. Because of that disparity to women in Boston started a national campaign to add more more than two boards of directors. And it may already be making a difference. Today we'll talk to three local women who are part of the movement called women on board 20 X 20. Donna fresh chair of the women's initiative of the law firm baker Donaldson and she serves on two public boards. -- Guido with the local chapter of the committee for women on boards. And Carol -- retired chairman and Chief Executive Officer of petroleum helicopters international. And president of the local chapter of the international women's forum she has served on six corporate boards. I welcome all of you. A very much because you're very busy people in this means a lot I have to tell you I think I was among the many who was very shocked. By the low number of boards of women on boards so let's kind of start there. Of all that when they'd look at the fortune 1001000. So of that what percentage of women. Well currently today and the latest reports there were just released Angelo com last week. It's sixteen point 6%. Of the fortune 1000 have women that are represented on the fortune 1000 boards. Now this is a figure that has -- now that's the good news because who we started this organization back in December of twenty canned. It was eleven precinct. And who prior year -- one each way out we actually grew to fourteen point. 6%. And then this year with the new report in October 2013 we have now reached sixteen point 6% said there is a growth challenged and so it and the goal is by 20/20 to have 20%. -- on -- absolute very realistic in a sense at this. If it's going up like this -- we we hope so I think these figures are very good numbers and I. I I think that it shows that we're moving forward in what -- purpose of the organization is it is simply to make people away air. Of what the figures are. From the begin each year. And into encourage dialogue is conversation on the subject. And then to measure and report the statistics each year so that's really the purpose. Of women on board. Which I think it's a very clear very focused. Purpose you know I I guess because. I now know that over 50% of law schools are women over 50% of medical schools women over well over 50% veterinary schools women. I guess I'm still surprised that in the world of business we're not further. Sort of your thoughts. Well I think a lot of the problem is that. Women -- not is well trained and in up in the financial affairs and the leadership and in corporate corporate America. And more and awards this is becoming the case so that the pool of applicants and being -- participant the -- applicants the pool of potential board members is significantly increased I think in the last five years. And you look at the people there and senior leadership positions across corporate America and you've got. Many more of them and you've had. So anyone I want imports from. Mean I was I wandered around my myself on its feet years it was like oh lord. So I just I think visible greater opportunity to vote and serve envoys because they're qualified you know you just can't -- on board because you want. To her and I'm like to speak to that if financially it's Donna freshen of course I'm a lawyer in a very large -- from its 700 lawyers and I serve. -- win this initiative so I watch these statistics. In our profession in the legal profession as well as watching the statistics rise hopefully rise although there. Still I think a bit disappointing when we compared the United States to other industrialized countries where we're actually. Almost at the bottom they're 22 countries that are in advance of of the United States in terms of having women on public boards. I'm in fact -- the United States really looks pretty dismal what you -- -- recent so that means some countries would never tolerate this in the United States. But some countries actually may end date. Gender composition so they mandate that women on bush for example Iceland is number one. I'm Denmark and is up in the top five Finland. Norway countries that. I think you've recognized even Spain has a mandate that hasn't been windy like 5050 -- why -- they -- certain percentage in a lot of it depends. On the company itself and and it's you know what what it's competition is what its constituents are. But the let me first I've talked to a little bit about what I think is important again because some lawyer. It's important -- York. Audience understand there's a big difference between serving on the board of a public company can. And serving on the board of a private company and then serving on the board of a nonprofit. Company and so we know a lot of nonprofit organizations that have a mission. And then mission is usually charitable although when you server of the board of a nonprofit. There are a number of women and probably almost as many women as -- on then on boards of non profits especially. In Louisiana we find this he still have this similar fiduciary responsibility to know and understand. What the finances are to make a board work make the underlying company. What the organization work and that's how to do with the LT and so. It's important that if you gonna serve on any board teach you understand. How you get money in the door and how you get money out of the door so that's a pivotal for those of many women who are on nonprofit boards that -- beginning training ground. It's a perfect place to be -- You learn how how the organization runs and you also learn about that the management uses -- -- great trainer. Okay you were saying -- though. Difference between public and private boards. -- and a public board is listed on a stock exchange to some content you could have New York Stock Exchange she -- NASDAQ he could have. -- other stock exchanges in and other countries is Tokyo Stock Exchange for example. And so fat in those companies that are listed on those exchanges are all subject to important federal. -- -- this -- exchange commission is the regulatory body that governs. You know what happens with respect to their reporting requirements and alike in so. A public company is one where you can buy. Their stock on the exchange in the stock goes up and down I'm sure -- you know you understand how all of that works and so. That's a lot different in terms of the not just the skill set. But also what the duties and responsibilities. Are of the sport to what kind of committees have to exist in the sports have -- -- compensation committee. That would be one could -- to the audit committee which is yelled it's risky to be an audit committee as a warm because -- responsibility is. That if oversight you have to make sure that management is being responsive to the shareholders. In terms of -- investments are going and why and how those. Stocks are being price is a very sensitive thing but it's very tightly regulated and then you've got of course. Private company boards. And on May be one or the other is because we count could speak to the difference in terms of family owned businesses and small corporations and -- That are not listed on the stock exchange they don't have outside investors that have closely held on cold fronts as what you still have a -- Fiduciary responsibility even if it's a privately held company but to me back up with something that you talk about the audit committee. -- -- the compensation committee is every -- as empire energy audit committee could dance because of the outrageous salaries that corporate America is paying so many of their people. And I mean I can I served on both audit and compensation committee in the responsibility is just enormous. He is the amount of homework you have to do and not cost. For the company to maintain. The proper external support for these committees is huge. And so eerie view to be really knowledgeable and how to run a business home and the components of the people -- And that -- be the workforce so you're saying it would be very important for anybody on -- board to have that experience is -- okay. It -- you know the homework that you have to do we several corporate board. He's just. Terrific but let's just say it's not just an honor its job and it's a job -- distilled to its responsibility it's at a very high level but it's still a job and you have to put the time in. And you have to understand the business and have to get outside resources to make comparisons. You have to be able to ask the right questions in order to get the answers from management that you need. So that you can fulfill your response -- Getting more women on boards of directors is the goal of WOB limit on board twenty -- that we could get 20%. Of women on board. By 20/20 and we have a local chapter three great women are here to discuss this. And I'm I'm loving listening to them in the commercials Donna freshen Janice Guido and Terrell Suggs. Also knowledgeable about this and what we've really established his. Is that we're gaining and were up now 16%. So works slowly but surely both of you both Donna and John. Carol has made very good points about the realities of being on a board and the huge responsibility. We'll get back to that but I think we need to touch base with a recent study out of -- That was about the wheezing and I kinda disturbing. 363. Board seats to feel and out of that 39 females were part of that figure. It it was a little disturbing I guess because when we first did this with. Women on board for Louisiana it actually the figures were little better back in 2011. Our top twenty public companies. Our company in Boston look at organization look at. And out of a 197. Seats at that point in time fifteen more feel about women with percent percent of seven point six of the Newcomb studies sexy seven point 28. Because it's based on larger percentage. So we're going down a little bit -- Mair but as we were just talking sometimes you have people who you know in the places in their -- -- is the boards rotate in and out right. We'll -- cinema and how often are seats available with not very frankly -- -- -- I really don't come available because you know it's not like a one year position. Did you like and nonprofit boards you may have make. Three year term or six year term. Or you become president for one year and then you rotate and get somebody else a chance that -- keep new -- -- that's not how American business works and they need consistency and also succession but very few slots come available. Every year and then when you looking at the state of Louisiana the universe of the number of corporations that are publicly traded. That are in Louisiana is very small in comparison to other states so the pool is small but also the number of corporations. And the number of slots in those corporations these are not large ports you really see a board that has. More than ten for example that would be a very large sport for a public company the average size may be. You know around eight or six or even less than that so and then a number of sense. Positions aren't reserved for independent meaning that they all are individuals that have certain kinds of qualifications. On -- at their expertise in a particular industry or because they're very they used to be auditors and they understand public on ending. Whenever it happens to be that makes them particularly attractive to -- a particular slot. So it's not just agenda that would. Be you know one of the factors that you would want to look at if you got a slot that was up for succession receipts that somebody at home would be saying. You know I know on number of female CPAs I know. People who clearly have credentials. Maybe not in that specific industry but boom in the world. Where they could contribute. Up. Having a credential as a CPA is a wonderful thing to have that you have to have the corporate business experience. You've you've got to have a broad base of experience I'm just looking at this list and probably the largest board in Louisiana -- easiest twelve and then maybe three of us. So they average numbers probably. Are audible moan and the board members and Louisiana boys from the seven. And don't give you some of the way that it changes out is area and mean and I'm not being funny when I say they see they age out of -- Snow well no they just not a lot of spaces available. And you have to position yourself. When you know we you're in your business world. If you're CPA or if you dealing in the human resources side. You work with a lot of people in the -- of the finance debate financial institutions and that's how I used to set yourself apart. You've got to make yourself as competitive as possible one to be the best you can in your business. But to also be a desirable board member. So it's up to you to do that you can just decide well I wanna go on the -- board -- -- -- forty minute because you know I'm -- charming in -- normal. Now if you've got to be really show up and really Smart and never earn your stripes. Are your stripes and then but how does one go -- you literally if your friend was with somebody on the board say if there's ever an opening I hope to be considered. How does one apply. We don't apply to tell your act now to you but one thing you can do and I have known this to be is there. Also out of some firms that do board searches like catalyst yeah -- so you knew you will you let it be known. But you really have to be at the top -- game. Right so you have to have. Credentials in your own life exactly for somebody is going to can't be a friend of the friend well I you know one of the things that I think I said we did have. Meeting if you -- handle it that that the panel. Was there a lot of opportunities for women to put themselves out there in the industry organizations. You can beyond the boards you can work in the committees if people recognize -- We knew you know in that industry. And you certainly do when you start in the right place. Is it enough and Philanthropic world but he's rarely happens to arrest him frankly is exactly. Okay it was you know go -- well I'm one of the things that I think is interesting that women on board job came out with our Wiki October 2013 releases was which. Industries. You know the ranking of which industries were most prominent with women on board in just. For the record out the first was our industry like utilities so there's actually a list on the women on boards site that you can go to deceit. If your interest did you know what are -- organizations currently that tend to have more women. I utilities was first real estate was second. Got consumer defense it was third it was interesting fortress financial services kids with health care. Two women we have with this Terrell Suggs and on a fresh. You know the responsibilities. And again emphasizing that you have to bring something to the table. It isn't just that you're a sweet nice person as -- said Carol. Really isn't that you just a woman I mean it's more than -- and I think you have to be extraordinarily competent woman who might Terrell Suggs well in Arizona. To say that but you earn your stripes and update you it's Europe if you can be onboard. Are -- invited to serve on a board do you hope to have and it's in an industry that you understand the -- you've got -- a little bit of a step up. And that is then do the thing that I have been able to do and that's because I served on world. Four of the six that I served on win a national reports which were really fascinating. And in -- Larry -- to where you go without pitching did their homework that you have to do. And staying on top of things you know you've seen all these lawsuits. So you by god you have to work with your management you have to listen you have to learn about the business more. How how much impact does the board have. On actual work of the company huge huge huge. They're not in the strategic planning out there and in day that we used to start 30 the boy just served on most recently. We started off with safety issues. At a -- and that was the number one. Priority was to make sure that the business that we ran was as safe as it could possibly be and then of course you do the finances. From Matt and you have -- to do you have so many masters. You've got the stockholders. So that your senior management has to be. Very attuned to what is in the best interest of the shareholders. What is in the best interest of the company. And you know you've got employees. And that was one of my. Bobcats are always wanted to feel that the employees are well taken care of focus that we didn't have happy employees. You've got things going on that you really not happy about that it was having had the union fight that I had I understood that. So it's it's about having happy employees because in their productive. Say that makes such common sense and somewhere along the lines I think we're losing that to be perfectly frank I think that you are right on target. That yes you have shareholder Jeff you have. Management unit huge response to -- but it's about keeping them happy workers that's right. Because you will succeed if you have happy workers and you manage and beautifully happy people had great idol and productive. Tonight. We know we look a lot at the statistics because statistics and and then they aren't statistics that can mean and say anything you want them to me that. In my law firm for example we have 700 lawyers so we have a very very large population as a war of shareholders as well as lawyers and -- shareholders are like our partners in the all time. Law firms we have partnerships now that they corporations and they run like businesses and it's very important for us to look at gender as part of the composition overall the governance structure of the law firm because we wanna see the law firm. From all different sides and we want to do so as respectfully as we can to our client base and our clients. Are very large corporations who are insistent. On gender diversity and also race diversity it's very very important to them that we reflect what their goals and values are -- so for example. I'm not -- we have a board of ten and then the CEO makes eleven we have three women. That's probably one of the best statistics of any law firm I would put next to our firm in terms of our peers in the country that's close to 30%. And the number shareholder we have are about 35%. When it. Unto men and of course as that pipeline hopefully it's not a leaky pipeline but it can be a leaky pipeline. Because as more women graduate from law schools around the country it's over 50% now. And go into the workforce and commit to the profession it's not just going to work nine to five it's committing to that profession. It's understanding your client's business declines in the streets it's being part of the association says Carroll indicated earlier. It's being you know being very aggressive about understanding that business and wanting to -- percent this Clinton when you are successful. In that business and the ownership begins to -- it manifest in that that's when you get to be on the board that's when it's recognize that you have skills other then. You know working hard and and may be doing well trying case you have to skills and beyond being able to try case Melissa got -- -- main cheerleader. Yes you know I'm I'm listening to long -- I'm also thinking about Louisiana and something that was not about women on boards but it was really disturbing. At a study recently done. Talking about the various aspects of women. And again we're only making 67 cents to the dollar and even an across the country it's 76 cents we are 67 cents. I did not know and I'm looking at the at a lawyer right here I had no idea. That it was still within the law. For someone to hire a woman and pay her less for an equal job I thought -- gotten rid of that yet years ago. Not sure what in the -- mean and I think that they're set. You know I think part of that is cultural and exit the -- the culture right I think women will accept less I mean they have responsibilities to their families and their willing to work for an average takes. And a mail saying -- -- I wanna I wanna make more in men tend to be more aggressive about. Compensation issues than women do and I think it's important that women recognize their value. And assert themselves in a way that there -- -- -- more women are on boards boards that make policies about compensation I think we'll begin to see some change at. You know I'm just reading messages -- attempts in recent years to prohibit businesses from paying unequal wages. Two employees of different genders for the same job has failed to gain legislative passage what is that. When -- -- -- -- -- that our response which should be legislated I mean it's it's when you only have still on the right things right the -- is saying. Women her state lawmakers at a 140 former members of the house and the senate in our state I think that's kind of going full circle on this conversation that. That women qualified women. Do you have something to bring to the table. They have eight. In my opinion a diversity of vision. Which will add to -- in any way shape performer any any house or legislature so without. I enough female skier to. Took input qualified females sometimes. They -- right you can get a little off base on these types of decisions were right. Let me ask you why why should we care. Why should we care what is it. What is it. Well I think everybody should care. Down. I conversations. About fairness in in any area of our life. And but I'm also I agree very strongly with Carol. When it comes to talking about. Corporate boards we have to you know it is what we make it we have to be professional about it and we have to be businesslike about it and we have to make sure. I think that we're way -- I think the awareness affect you were having this dialogue were having this conversation. That's what. The organization 20/20 women on board feels strongly that we're trying to create the conversation like you were surprised. The statistics when whenever. So that's a first step -- and and I think we should care. Because. I'm trying to figure out that tie in between. Having more women on board and having more women in management and smaller companies having more women possibly. In our legislature. Because I do feel strongly that women come at different challenging issues sometimes promote a different perspective. And and and -- course again. Both Donna and Carroll -- set -- boards and I think they would could agree with me at least on that that I do you feel sometimes women bring a different. Outlook to a conversation on something. For instance recording -- how K year. Or. A fair pay Carroll was just talking about how she felt so strongly that taking care in ploy ease. So. You guys jump in here with me I mean I think you have the passion I have for that. Well I think it's you know we we all have done enormous amount of a volunteer work. And and and you do it because your passion about what to eat unity in -- day you wanna make a difference in a positive way. And so I think that's what's this is all about is you see opportunities. To do some things that can make a difference that can help. And nom you know me man don't have an earthly idea really what to an -- -- costs -- you know going to the grocery store and all that. And think you know we we -- multi purpose I think that three of us sitting here running a household. So you bring you bring a lot of that to the table and it's just us. Undiscovered error on discussed daily things that and I think a woman bringing you understand a lot of needs to man monotonous and different way which is what she's I mean when I can't go into Kansas. Controversy -- things recently that catalysts which you mentioned earlier Don has a study out and they claim that they've been studying. Companies with women on board vs companies that don't have women on board and they seem to be saying to all of us hit. Those companies with some four sort of female representation. -- tending to be more profitable. And there was another study that credits Credit Suisse did recently with which are also spoke to that. Now -- -- -- and seeing a lot of controversy about that B frank a lot of our male counterparts think that possibly you know it's not scientific enough but. There are some real studies that have been done on the us that they backseat studied different corporate boards and -- That they came to be more profitable and why because they tend to bring a different perspective to difficult issues facing our companies today. They seem to think that a diverse board it's better conditioned. To survive the global economies of today which as we know every day as a challenge in the business world you have to beast nimble and strategic. And then finally they comment that there seems to be more more of a qualified cool. A female applicants finally available for these seats. So those of the different reasons that they point to mail. Of you know why is it more important that we study that -- okay. We have been talking the last hour about a national campaign little local chapter here of women on boards with the recognition that. There haven't been enough women on corporate boards in America. Slowly but surely that's changing even the last several years has gone up from 11% to a little over 16%. I find that very hopeful. And so the trying to make 20% by 201220122020. Is is a possibility. But as I'm learning from you all it is. The criteria to be on board. Is if you have to have your act together you have to have done a lot to yourself to be able to contribute to a board and I think that's a very important thing. And there are certainly women who have. So it's just a matter of as you said Carol making it known by being in the forefront of your -- industry. To say I could contribute to yours. Well and you people see you do good work and they want you to be part of what they're doing. So you you know you bring that flag to the table for sure they hear how do you handle an issue. Especially under fire because that's very important to understand what it means to be in the middle of the crisis and how you respond to that crisis. Leadership is extremely important and I think if we start training women at a younger age to be leaders to become leaders. And we are able to find ways to help them become leaders I think we'll find more women. Not just in a elections as a war but also women that get appointed. To high places and they can make a change in terms of policy and then ultimately women in the business communities that we live and -- he's going to talk about is that Louisiana is in the midst of its greatest economic and this would be the time how we think. That women need to get involved and recognize that that opportunity exists for all and for women and three outstanding women have spent our day and our first star -- thank you so much. Next Tuesday it is going to be a luncheon asked. At the world Sanath Wilson asked Hal and it's going to be talking about the subject. -- -- hotel next Tuesday thank you great ladies and will continue this conversation and we'll be right back.