A new study released Wednesday, shows that as the economy began to slow, so did the advancement of women. In Florida, women made no significant gains in winning top corporate jobs and even lost board director positions over the past two years. The 2008 Census by Women Executive Leadership mirrors a national trend that reveals women gained little ground advancing as business leaders.
"It's clear we have a long way to go," said Sherry Barrat, executive vice president for Northern Trust Corp. and president of personal financial services.
Indeed, men hold more than 92 percent of the board seats in the top 150 Florida public companies. That's even a higher proportion than they held the last time that WEL compiled data, in 2006. Mergers, consolidations and bankruptcies changed the corporate landscape, diminishing some of the large Florida public companies that had women as directors such as Claire's Stores, Jacuzzi Brands and Mayor's Jewelers.
"The 2008 results were not what we we hoping," said Cindy Kushner, chairman of Women Executive Leadership, an advocacy group. "We would like to ask that Florida companies take time for reflection. Given that the majority of consumers are women, is your board representative of your customers?"
Amid the country's economic woes, women's advancement in corporate leadership is at a critical stage.
If the recession continues, women are poised to surpass men on the nation's payrolls, taking the majority for the first time in American history, according to new unemployment data. This is because most large-scale layoffs have been in male-dominated industries.
Unfortunately, the jobs women have – and are supporting their families with – are more of the low-paying jobs without benefits and a grand leap away from the corner office.
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