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May 9, 2011Corporate boards have grown less diverse over the past six years—but why? Is the recession to blame, or an uptick in African-Americans choosing to retire from boards, or an unintended consequence of U.S. financial legislation? To find out more about the culprits—and what you can do to help reverse the trend—check out today’s C This.

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Dropping the Ball

Last year, white men made up 72.9% of board members at the nation’s 100 largest companies, up from 71.2% in 2004. Why are the numbers going backward? As I suggested to MSNBC, amid the recession many companies took their eye off the ball when it came to diversity. Companies are not actively excluding women—they’re just not making a focused effort to include them.

READ: “Minorities Lose Ground in Big Corporate Boardrooms,” by Allison Linn, MSNBC, 5/3/11

Just Say “No”

Study after study has shown that companies with more women in senior positions outperform those with fewer. Joe Keefe, CEO of Pax World, argues that shareholders should say “no” to all-male corporate boards on annual proxies, and say why. And I agree. If you have a voice as a shareholder—use it!

READ: “Women-Savvy Companies: A Better Investment Bet,” by Linda Tarr-Whelan, The Financial Times, 4/25/11

Messing Up Mentoring?

What are the pitfalls around mentorship programs? At the top of the list: a lack of clear goals. “Without a goal—a reason for the mentoring program—there can be no strategy, and without strategy, you won't create a mentoring impact, let alone a mentoring culture,” said Ann Tardy, a San Francisco-based management consultant. “Before you do anything else, determine why you want a mentoring program, what goals you have for the program, and what success will look like.”

READ: “How Companies Mess Up Mentoring,” by Harvey Schachter, The Globe and Mail, 5/9/11

Top Earners Mostly Men

A survey of the salaries, bonuses, and long-term incentive awards of CEOs from America’s top 350 companies found that median compensation surged 11% to $9.3 million this past year. Poring over the names of the 350 top earners, I was disappointed to see only a handful of women. Since most top earners are men, it’s no wonder that women lag men in pay throughout the rest of the system.

READ: “CEO Pay in 2010 Jumped 11%” by Joann S. Lublin, The Wall Street Journal, 5/9/11

Macho Men

Bad news for “macho” men: New research has shown that sixty-five-year-old men with macho attitudes are about half as likely as their peers to have gotten basic preventative medical care in the past year. And Catalyst research suggests that dropping a “macho” attitude is a key determinant of whether men support or resist efforts to close gender gaps in the workplace. So, do you still want to be a macho man?

READ: “Machismo Kills Men,” by Christopher Shea, The Wall Street Journal, 4/26/11