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Leading by Example
California's Top 25: The Corporate Leaders of Gender Diversity in the Boardroom and Executive Suite

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Although women are sorely underrepresented in the corporate boardrooms and top executive offices of the 400 largest public companies in California, there are firms that incorporate a significant percentage of women in their leadership.

Our Top 25 list highlights the companies with the highest percentage of women leaders. As in recent years, the top companies with the highest percentage had 50 percent women leaders. This year two companies tied for the top spot: organic food maker Annies Inc., led by CEO John Foraker, and home furnishings retailers Williams-Sonoma Inc., led by CEO Laura Alber. 

These companies’ success demonstrates that achieving balanced gender leadership is far from impossible. We encourage companies of all sizes to follow their example. Read on for insight and advice from both enlightened corporate leadership and thought leaders focused on boosting the number of women in leadership.

Leadership Lessons for Companies

Laura Alber

President, Chief Executive Officer, Director, Williams-Sonoma Inc.
Ranked No. 1 in 2014–2015 Study

Williams-Sonoma Inc. is proud to be a leader in diversity and consider this to be at the core of our business practices. We work to create an environment that attracts great talent, and we seek to motivate, inspire and recognize high performance among all employees.”

—Laura Alber

Ann Huff Stevens

Dean, UC Davis Graduate School of Management

The ‘California 400’ are leaders in their sectors, shaping global markets and fueling our nation’s economy. Together they represent more than $4.5 trillion in stock market value, up more than 30 percent over last year. But women’s voices are largely absent from top leadership. 

“While it would be easy to declare defeat, it is critical that government, education and business leaders keep this conversation alive to move the needle forward. Today’s corporate leaders need to change their thinking, moving beyond close circles to find talent for open board seats and top executive positions.”

—Dean Ann Huff Stevens

Marilyn Nagel 

CEO, Watermark

There has been significant discussion recently about women “leaning in” and an outpouring of executive leadership support for greater gender equality. A new women’s movement is emerging in which women advocate for one another and have the ability to influence at the highest levels.” 

—Marilyn Nagel

John D. Goodman

Chief Executive Officer, Wet Seal Inc.
Ranked No. 1 in 2013-2014 Study

As a retailer of women’s apparel, Wet Seal is committed to empowering, developing and recognizing women whether they are our customers, employees or members of the communities in which we operate.  Our people are our lifeblood and it’s the rich diversity of our employees and customers that set us apart—at Wet Seal we are passionate about creating opportunities for people at every level.”

—John D. Goodman

Leading by Example

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