Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Women Call for Obama to Act: Linda Tarr-Whelan and Jacki Zehner

August 27, 2010

Yesterday we celebrated the 90th anniversary of women FINALLY getting the right to vote. To that end it is appropriate to look at how far we still have to go before we are equally represented. Ambassador Linda Tarr-Whelan has co-authored a wonderful piece on how women improve the success rate of everything.

By Linda Tarr-Whelan and Jacki Zehner – Aug 25, 2010 9:00 PM ET
Bloomberg Opinion

Today marks Women’s Equality Day, the commemoration of women’s suffrage achieved in 1920. What better time to take stock of what’s left to do?

We need a national conversation led by the White House to explore how women decision-makers can help achieve better economic performance and a more prosperous future for all.

The administration of Barack Obama has already taken the first step by appointing talented women — including Mary Schapiro, who holds the top job at the Securities and Exchange Commission; Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel; and Sheila Bair, who heads the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — to help dig us out of the financial mess.

Having a few females at the top is wonderful, but until we have at least 30 percent of senior women in leadership, we will be ignoring a strong dynamic that is working well elsewhere.

Today, a growing body of research that shows positive outcomes from having balanced leadership has been ignored. Other countries are addressing the fundamental issue of leadership in ways that have yet to gain much traction in the U.S. We can certainly do better.

Tapping the full range of talent that includes the skills, experience and leadership of women as well as men is hardly a radical idea. As the Economist magazine famously wrote in 2006, “Forget China, India and the Internet: Economic growth is driven by women.” An increasing number of reports show that having at least 30 percent of women in corporate and governmental leadership roles improves decision-making, opens up institutions and removes barriers to full participation.

Performance Driver

The U.S. has much to gain from a new leadership model. Economic growth and stock prices can only benefit.

New York-based consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has released a series of reports since 2007 making the case that gender diversity at the top is a corporate performance driver. Yet, they note that three-quarters of 1,500 biggest companies have no women on their management boards. Further, there are only 28 female chief executive officers in 1,000 largest companies.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm on Wall Street, recommends investing in countries where the gender gap is closing and where the “laws and social norms that have discriminated against women are shifting.” Its studies show gross-domestic-product growth accelerates when women hold positions of power. Goldman has created the 10,000 Women Initiative, a $100 million, five-year program to provide an advanced business education for women.

Costly Failures

Failing to address challenges that keep women out of leadership is costly. New York-based research group Catalyst Inc. has shown that firms with three or more women on management boards boosted their return on equity by 112 percent, compared with those with fewer women.

Recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined a fast- moving trend in Europe to achieve 30 percent to 40 percent women on corporate boards. The French are following the lead of Norway, Spain and the Netherlands, which have already moved to accomplish these goals. The World Bank and the United Nations’ Global Compact policy initiative have also recognized women’s advancement as essential to economic growth.

Michel Ferrary, a professor of management at the Skema Business School in Sophia Antipolis, France, studied the effects of balanced leadership in France during the financial crisis of 2007-08. “The more women there were in a company’s management, the less the share price fell in 2008,” he said.

Investment Concept

Similar results have been published by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and in the U.K., India and Australia. Gender equality, as an investment concept, has been taken up by mutual funds such as Pax World Investments, which recently started a Global Women’s Equality Fund betting that companies with more diverse leadership will perform better than others. A recent study by the National Council for Research on Women, based on data from Hedge Fund Research Inc., showed women hedge-fund managers outperformed their male counterparts.

Our country has nothing to lose and much to gain by addressing the lack of women in top leadership. But it won’t just happen. The U.S., a country that aspires to be a world leader, ranks a pathetic 31st out of 134 countries in eliminating the disparities between women and men in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.

On this 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage, President Obama should consider convening a White House Roundtable to find ways to increase the number of women decision-makers in the economy. Then we can celebrate women’s equality in America.

(Linda Tarr-Whelan is a Demos distinguished senior fellow, author of “Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World” and a former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Jacki Zehner is a consultant, vice chairman of the Women’s Funding Network, and a former partner and managing director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The opinions expressed are their own.)

To contact the writers of this column: Linda Tarr-Whelan at; Jacki Zehner at

Presidential Proclamation on Women’s Equality!

August 26, 2009

Today President Barack Obama issued a proclamation in honor of women’s equality day. Read it and cheer!

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Today, our country renews its commitment to freedom and
justice for all our citizens. As we prepare to celebrate this
women’s day of equality, we reflect on the sacrifices once made
to allow women and girls the basic rights and choices we freely
exercise today. The future we leave to our daughters and
granddaughters will be determined by our willingness to build on
the achievements of our past and move forward as one people and
one Nation. The fight for women’s equality is not a woman’s
agenda, but an American agenda.
We honor the resilience, accomplishments, and history of
all women in the United States. We celebrate the courageous
women who fought to uphold a fundamental principle within our
Constitution — the right to vote — and in so doing, protected
the cornerstone of our vibrant democracy. These visionaries of
the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 sought to ensure that our
country lived up to its founding ideals. Although only one,
Charlotte Woodward, at the age of 81, had the opportunity to
exercise her newfound right, the struggle reminds us that no
righteous cause is a lost one. We also commemorate women like
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a poet and lecturer who formed
the National Association of Colored Women; Antonia Pantoja,
a tireless advocate of education equality within the Latino
community; Sarah Winnemucca, a voice for peace within the
Native American community; and Patsy Mink, author of Title IX
and the first woman of color and Asian American woman elected
to the United States Congress. These women’s talents, and the
contributions of countless others, built upon the framework of
1848 and forged paths for future generations.
Our Nation has come a long way since that ground-breaking
convention in New York. Women have occupied some of the most
significant positions in government. They have delivered
justice from the bench of our highest court, fought for our
country in foreign lands, discovered cures to diseases, and
joined the ranks of the greatest business leaders of our time.
Female college graduates now outnumber their male counterparts.
Women have sought equality through government, demonstrated
by the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and
the establishment of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
They have sought equality through advocacy, exemplified by the
efforts of thousands of women’s organizations. America has made
significant progress toward becoming the fair and just society
the suffragists once envisioned.
Yet, today, our work remains unfinished. Far too many
adult women remain mired in poverty. Women are still subject to
pervasive discrimination at school and harassing conduct in the
workplace. Women make, on average, only 78 cents for every
dollar paid to men. Underrepresented in many facets of our
economic and public life, from government to boardrooms to
the sciences, women have yet to eradicate all barriers to
professional development.
We stand at a moment of unparalleled change and a time
for reflection and hope. We cannot allow the vibrant energy
and passionate commitment of our trailblazing women to fade,
and we can never forget the responsibility we bear to the ideals
of liberty and equality for all. Each generation of successful
women serves as a catalyst to empower, enlighten, and educate
the next generation of girls and boys, and we must devote
ourselves to promoting this catalyst for change now and in
the future.
On this Women’s Equality Day, we resolve to continue the
important work of our Nation’s foremothers and their successors,
and turn their vision of a more equal America into our reality.
United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby
proclaim August 26, 2009, as Women’s Equality Day. I call upon
the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements
of women and recommit themselves to the goal of true gender
equality in this country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand
nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America
the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
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