Press Releases

Beyer and Maloney Host Gender Parity Forum

Witnesses Testify on Gender Diversity and Economic Growth

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Washington, October 24, 2017 | comments

Congressman Don Beyer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney hosted experts on the path to gender parity in corporate leadership for a hearing today. Gender diversity experts from Catalyst, the 30 Percent Club, Northrop Grumman, and Paradigm for Parity testified on the critical need to increase gender diversity in America’s corporate boardrooms.

“Research consistently shows that companies with gender balanced leadership do better, contribute more to our GDP, and provide smarter, safer working environments,” said Rep. Beyer. “Today’s witnesses are experts at increasing and harnessing the power of gender diverse corporate leadership. There is much that Congress could do to boost our economic growth and private sector success by encouraging businesses to eliminate gender disparities in corporate leadership, and I will continue to make that work a major priority.”

“Despite much progress, women still face too many barriers to the road to success and equality. One of the key ways to address this problem, is getting more women in corporate leadership positions. Leaders set the tone, and they set the priorities,” said Rep. Maloney. “That is why I’m so honored to co-host this forum with Congressman Beyer, who’s been focused on getting more women into corporate leadership positions for years. This is a key conversation that we need to keep having until we see real change, like the passage of our Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act.”

Women comprise 47 percent of the labor force, yet account for only 20 percent of corporate board seats for S&P 500 companies, according to the 2016 Missing Pieces Report by the Alliance for Board Diversity and Deloitte. For women of color, this figure stands at just four percent.

“Despite a compelling business case for more women in corporate leadership, progress in the last 20 years has been notably sluggish. Catalyst’s research shows that current boards do not reflect the diversity of our country, as women hold only 21.2 percent of all S&P 500 board seats and women of color hold 3.8 percent of Fortune 500 board seats. The statistics don’t get any better for senior leadership positions. Women hold only 5.2 percent of the CEO positions in the S&P 500 and make up only 11 percent of the Top Earners. And once again, the numbers are even worse for women of color.  The dialogue must change from focusing on why we need more women at the table, to how we can accelerate progress,” said Catalyst Vice President of Public Affairs Serena Fong.

“A board of directors that fails to consider candidates beyond their usual network of “pale, male and stale” peers denies their organization the greater cognitive diversity and more effective risk mitigation associated with gender-diverse boards. It’s a matter of good corporate governance,” said Kiersten Barnet from the 30 Percent Club.

Kymberlee Dwinell, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Northrop Grumman said, “Thank you Congressman Beyer and Congresswoman Maloney for organizing today’s important Forum on Gender Parity. Northrop Grumman recognizes that diverse teams are not only essential to developing the most innovative and effective solutions, but they are also vital to strengthening our national and economic security.  Diversity is truly a strategic asset. A respect for diversity and an inclusive work environment are not just important values, but essential to long- term success. I am honored to be here today representing Northrop Grumman.  I am especially proud of our company’s efforts to support women while creating a workplace that empowers us to thrive and lead!”

“Gender parity is an essential investment for any business. Having people with diverse backgrounds and experiences in the room – whether it’s in the c-suite or in a conference room – gets the best results. And Paradigm for Parity is pleased to give companies an actionable roadmap to advance women and close the gap,” added Candace Duncan, a Founding Member of Paradigm for Parity and Retired Managing Partner at KPMG.   

The percentage of women in corporate leadership crawls upwards by roughly one percent annually, an unacceptably slow rate for achieving parity or even for achieving the oft-cited goal of 30 percent. This is despite numerous reports that have independently found that gender diversity at senior levels of corporate governance enhance that company’s performance.

A fact sheet prepared for the forum is available here, and opening statements are available as well: [Maloney] [Beyer] [Fong] [Barnet] [Dwinell] [Duncan].

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