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Latest Catalyst Census Shows Women Still Not Scaling the Corporate Ladder in 2010; New Study Indicates Clue to Reversing Trend

NEW YORK– Women’s representation has not grown significantly in corporate boardrooms, executive office suites, or the ranks of companies’ top earners in the last year, according to the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors and the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners released today. Research shows that actively battling the stagnation of the last several years by advancing talented women could provide businesses with an enormous competitive advantage. Catalyst’s latest global study, Mentoring: Necessary But Insufficient for Advancement, demonstrates that men with mentors are promoted more and compensated at a higher rate, while women with mentors are far less likely to be promoted or paid more as a result of being mentored. Sponsors—mentors who advocate for promotions and high-profile development opportunities—could help narrow the gender leadership gap.
 
“Corporate America needs to get ‘unstuck’ when it comes to advancing women to leadership,” said Ilene H. Lang, Catalyst President & Chief Executive Officer. “This is our fifth report where the annual change in female leadership remained flat. If this trend line represented a patient's pulse—she'd be dead.”
 
According to the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors and the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners:

  • Women held 15.7% of board seats in 2010—only a 0.5 percentage point gain over the 15.2% they held in 2009.
  • In both 2009 and 2010, more than 50% of companies had at least two women board directors, yet more than 10% had no women serving on their boards. The percentage of companies with three or more women board directors also remained flat.
  • In 2010, women held only 14.4% of Executive Officer positions, up from 13.5% in 2009.
  • In 2010, women Executive Officers held only 7.6% of the top earner positions, as compared with 6.3% in 2009.
  • In 2009, more than two-thirds of companies had at least one woman Executive Officer; this number did not change in 2010. The same held true for companies with no women Executive Officers.

“Jumpstarting women’s advancement takes commitment fueled by urgency,” said Ms. Lang. “Our research points to a solution that can narrow the gender leadership gap and supercharge the leadership pool—making corporate America more competitive in the process.”
 
Catalyst research shows that mentoring, i.e., offering career guidance and advice, is not as effective in advancing women as is sponsorship, i.e., advocating for women for specific opportunities. According to Mentoring: Necessary But Insufficient for Advancement, men’s mentors tend to hold more senior positions, which means they have the clout necessary to provide sponsorship. Other findings include:

  • Men with mentors had starting salaries in their first post-MBA jobs that were, on average, $9,260 higher than the starting salaries of women with mentors.
  • Men received more promotions than women, and their promotions came with greater salary increases—men received 21% more in compensation per promotion while women’s compensation increased by only 2% per promotion.
  • High-potential women and men with senior-level mentors—those in a position to provide sponsorship—advanced further and earned more than those with less senior mentors, pointing to the need for career support from people with clout. Sponsorship is not a silver bullet, however. Men with senior-level mentors still had greater salary increases than women with senior-level mentors.

Ernst & Young sponsored the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors and the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners at the Mentor Circle level.
 
For Mentoring: Necessary But Insufficient for Advancement, American Express Company sponsored at the President's Circle level, Barclays Capital at the Executive Circle level, and Chevron Corporation, Credit Suisse Group, General Motors Company, The Procter & Gamble Company, and Scotiabank at the Mentor Circle level.
 
ABOUT CATALYST
Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award.