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Advancing Women in Business Leadership
Presented by the UC Davis Graduate School of Management

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In today’s global marketplace, where diverse backgrounds, skills and experience are critical for strategic and operational decisions, having more women involved at the highest levels of business management and corporate governance is associated with more profitable and well-managed corporations. The Graduate School of Management is dedicated to helping make that a reality.

Diversity in Leading CA Companies

Advancing Women in Business Leadership

There has been significant discussion about women “leaning in” and an outpouring of executive leadership support for greater gender equality. However, there remains a lack of substantial progress in gender diversity in the majority of California’s leading public companies—and the need to help create these opportunities.

UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders

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For the 10th year, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management in partnership with Watermark has published the annual UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers.

The study is the only one of its kind to focus on gender diversity in the boardrooms and executive suites of corporate California. Our goal is to drive awareness among corporations, business leaders and policy makers to take meaningful action toward greater female representation.

View key findings and download the 2014-2015 study

Public Policy Impact

In September 2013 the California legislature passed the first-of-its-kind Senate Concurrent Resolution 62 (SCR-62). Authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the resolution is nonbinding but sends a powerful message encouraging public companies to add more women to their boards. For boards with up to 14 directors, the resolution calls for no fewer than 21 percent women, scaling up with size to 25 percent or 33 percent. The UC Davis study was cited in SCR-62.

The percentage of companies in compliance with SCR-62 increased from 12 percent to 16 percent by the end of the latest fiscal year, December 2013. Another 36 percent of companies need to add one more woman director to be in compliance. Among companies with the most women leaders—our Top 25 list—96 percent meet the standards of SCR-62, up from 74 percent last year and 79 percent in the previous year, if the resolution had been in place at the time. These results are still very early since the fiscal year-end for most companies came only three months after the resolution was passed. 

Preliminary results show that companies are adding more women board directors. Of the 63 firms in compliance with SCE-62, more than one third are in the computer hardware and software industries. This is noteworthy because women hold only 8.3 percent of the highest-paid executive positions in these industries, combined, and the resolution requires most companies to have a minimum of two or three women on the board. These companies are demonstrating leadership in gender diversity despite industry-wide challenges with diversity among the top executive ranks.

“We cannot grow impatient. Not yet. The ‘lean in’ movement has highlighted the need to encourage and assist more women to take a seat at the table. Careful and ongoing monitoring of firms’ and women’s progress can help sustain this momentum.”

— Dean Ann Huff Stevens, UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Recent Related Reseach

Silicon Valley law firm Fenwick & West’s 2013 proxy season report Gender Diversity in Silicon Valley: A Comparison of Silicon Valley Public Companies and Large Public Companies shows that women are significantly underrepresented relative to their percentage of the general population and as a percentage of the workforce (and in a number of ways when compared with their percentage in very large public companies). The report also shows that the past two decades (and, in particular, the years since the depth of the financial crisis) has been a time of progress for women in leadership roles in Silicon Valley public companies.


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