When it comes to our candles, there’s nothing more tragic than a fall or drop that leads to a broken vessel. We’ve cracked the glass more than a few times, here at Maple & Lather HQ and hope it never happens to you. Today’s story is about when broken glass is a good thing.
We’re writing about the “glass ceiling” of course, the metaphor illustrating the long-standing journey for women to rise to equality in the modern workforce. This month, we witnessed another key crack in the glass with the nomination of Jane Fraser as the incoming CEO of Citibank. Ms. Fraser’s appointment will make her the first female CEO of a major U.S. Bank in history. At first blush, it’s an important milestone. Upon reflection, though, it borders on ridiculous that it’s taken this long for a headline like this to emerge.
The Maple & Lather team decided to give you our view on where we stand today, and ways that we and those ahead beyond us will continue to ensure this inequality becomes a ‘gone but not forgotten’ chapter in history books.
The Equality Scorecard
Today, we see a continuing imbalance in gender representation in boardrooms of top companies. A recent study showed about 20% of board members of the U.S. top 1000 companies are women. That’s only marginally up from about 17% in 2015. Surveys have cited a smaller pool of qualified candidates as a leading reason, but with women (and minorities) making up an equal share of demographic representation in business, it’s more than just equality at stake. Without women having a clear voice in the boardroom, it will be difficult for any major company to strategically represent the interests of a cohort that makes up 50% of its workforce (and the planet).
Some jurisdictions are legally compelling companies to do better. California now requires at least one female board member at every public company it its state. This will increase to 2 members for every 5-person board roster. While some are opposed to legislative fixes to the problem, this law’s driven an increase in training and development of female executives for board roles. This mandate is grooming a new and fresh pool of talent to table, so to speak.
How are we Trending?
When I internalize this personally, I always come back to my 9 year-old daughter. Should she choose to climb the corporate ladder, in finance, in silicon valley, in any industry, will she still be in the minority as she moves up the ranks? I was shocked to learn that in Canada, women make up a paltry 22% of all engineering students, even in 2020. In MBA programs, the number is better, but still not where it needs to be, at about 36%
Ensuring equality and representation in the corporate world needs to start at the top of the funnel, in places like elementary school and at home. We must be keenly aware of gender bias, even subconscious bias and ensure our girls are given every opportunity to explore and engage in STEM.
Gender equality is a complex issue that can’t be properly addressed in a quick-read article like this one. Our thoughts at Maple & Lather though, are that awareness and repetition is key. Our hope is that with this article, we’re reminding mothers, sisters, fathers and brothers to keep the issue, and all of its underlying foundations, at the forefront of conscious thought. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to Mrs. Fraser’s reign at Citibank, and the many Janes that follow in her footsteps.