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How are California’s Women Business Leaders Doing?

by Marilyn Nagel December 10, 2013
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Last night's census release event was a truly poignant way for us to wrap up the year. We had a fabulous turnout, with our attendees engaging in a memorable conversation about the status of women business leaders. As ever, a huge thank you to the UC Davis Graduate School of Management for their continued efforts and hard work in publishing the study each year. Thanks also to Pillsbury for hosting us last night!

To find out more about the Watermark-UC Davis Partnership, click here.

In case you missed it, here are the major takeaways from last night:

We kicked things off with a fireside chat with Shellye Archambeau, CEO of MetricStream, recent addition to the Verizon board of directors and a Watermark woman who is widely regarded as one of the top leaders in Silicon Valley (just this year, she was named by Business Insider as the "#2 Most Influential African American in Technology"). Shellye shared with us her experience in making it to the board, and offered some candid advice:

  • On finding a board seat: "It's not as hard as you think if you treat it like finding a job."
  • On personal branding: "It's always better to be specific about your skills. Sitting members and board recruiters want to know exactly what you bring to the table, not that you're generally good at everything."
  • Her parting advice: "Make a plan. Do your research. Then refine your plan." 

Our fireside chat was followed by a presentation from Amanda Kimball, author of the UC Davis Study of California Business Leaders. Here are the key findings from this year's report.

The good news:

  • For the first time, the Top 2 companies (Annie's Inc. and Wet Seal Inc.) in the study show a majority of women in top positions, with the Top 5 companies showing over 40% of their top positions filled by women
  • This year, the number of women directors has increased by 1%, and though small, this is a greater increase than in the last 5 years of the study

​Where we can improve:

  • Women still hold fewer than 11% of top positions in California's top 400 public companies (that's roughly 1 woman for every 8 men)
  • Silicon Valley is still lagging in the number of women directors, at only 9.3%
  • Regarding ethnic diversity, while white males comprise only 20% of California's population, they make up 75% of board directors. Meanwhile, non-white females make up 30% of California's population, yet hold only 1.8% of board seats.​

​Some statistics to keep in mind:

  • The Top 25 companies in the study boast three times more revenue than companies without women executives and directors
  • Of the Fortune 100 companies included in the study, over 80% have at least two women on their boards, and the wide majority (over 50%) have three or more women directors

To see the full results of the study, visit the UC Davis Graduate School of Management's new website.

Thank you again to everyone who attended last night's event! We hope to see you at many of our fantastic events coming up in January!

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