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Ruby women – success in business comes in many forms

06 December 2013

Lone Wolf Woman On Retail Boards

Women on boards - lone wolfs, mostly

The shopping season is upon us, and, as Irene Natividad, chair of Corporate Women Directors International and president of the Global Summit of Women based in Washington, D.C., points out in her recent USA Today article: “women around the world are going to spend billions of dollars that will keep retail and consumer companies in the black…”

The interesting state of affairs is that this economic clout – in the US it is estimated women hold 85 percent of the influence over buying decisions - “isn't adequately reflected in the corporate boardroom, and that is a serious business mistake.”

Natividad who knows the make-up of the boards of a number of large US retail chains shows that the number of females on them is woeful.

We thought we’d take a quick look at the state of affairs here in Australia, expecting the worst, and found some surprising results.

Scanning the About Us areas on the websites of various large retail/department store concerns was an eye opener.

David Jones has a board of eight, three of whom are women. The senior management team of nine has four women in it.

Woolworths which encompasses a number of brands, including Big W and Dan Murphy, has a 12-person board and three of them are women.

Westfield also has a 12-person board. It has two women on it. The 14-person senior management team reminds us of the Coalition government’s cabinet. There is one woman.

Wesfarmers the company under which Coles, Target, etc., sit has three women on its 12-man board.

Of course, there’s room for equality, lots of room, but these brief findings were a little better than expected.

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Cracks in the pipeline

Correcting the disruptions that prevent women learning how to become leaders wasn’t ever going to be easy. The findings in this HBR piece “Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers” list the problems and provide steps toward correcting. It’s due to what the authors term ‘second generation bias’ and if we all name it and shame it we will empower women to get passed it.

Getting Over Barriers

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Ruby members

Leafing through what Ruby members are doing, Mandy Richards from Sydney Community Foundation has something new coming. She is the founder of Global Sisters, a unique online platform and e-marketplace which provides a ‘start to finish’ approach in assisting socioeconomically disadvantaged women in Australia to develop an income stream via micro business or social enterprise. The website is set to go live in early 2014 and she has been getting lots of encouragement from other similar organisations.

Eastern Weft, a weaving co-operative based in Vientiane, Laos., founded by Samorn Sanixay and Kaisy Sopabmixay, is one such organisation. Eastern Weft showcases the beauty and diversity of Lao textiles and craft. On their facebook page was this tid bit below...

Eastern Weft

“hey everyone, meet grandma, she helps make tassels and pom poms for some of our products. The ultimate Eco champ, never had a haircut in her life, has only ever used kafir lime to wash her hair and nearly everything she needs is grown in her backyard.”

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