Boys-Only Boards

“Aida thinks like a man.”  This was one teacher’s response to a 16-year-old, Aida Alvarez, about why she asked so many questions in class, according to a Businessweek article published earlier this week.  Alvarez, who was a former administrator of the Small Business Administration, now sits on the boards of Wal-Mart and Union Bank.

Now, is this attitude the reason why some companies seem refuse to “break the glass ceiling” and allow women to reach the top and equally represent a company alongside with men?  According to Bloomberg Rankings reported in an article by Joel Stonington, there are a total of 29 companies in the Standard & Poors 500 that are all male in their company’s decision-making roles.  There are no women on their board of directors, as well as no women among the top five highest-paid officers.   In addition, there are 47 companies, or 9.4% of the S&P 500, that solely have no women on their board of directors but did have at least one woman in their top paid officers.  And while the number of women on boards has grown throughout the 1990s and 2000s, just 2.6% of board chairmanships are held by women.

The companies that made the list span industries from oil and gas to real estate to investment management.  These companies include America’s largest maker of uniforms, Cintas; the company that produces Animal Planet and the Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications; North America’s largest maker of nitrogen fertilizer, CF Industries Holdings; and wireless communication provider, MetroPCS.

“It’s totally insensitive,” says Terry Savage in the article, a financial journalist and longtime corporate board member. “I find it simply astounding that a company that has at least half of its ultimate users and customers as women, especially uniforms or media, I find it astounding that they don’t have a woman on the board.”

When some of these companies were addressed about this issue many refused to comment for the article but some had said that the next board member would be a woman or pointed out a recent female board member or executive.  In some instances, the argument that these companies had was that there just weren’t enough qualified women to have a seat on a board, especially with regard to the oil and gas industry.

So is this just an unfortunate lack of “qualified” women for these specific companies or are these companies not embracing the benefits of diversity on their boards?  Let us know what you think!

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