Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business – Inaugural Forum – April 27, 2012
With close to 500 business leaders, students and community members in attendance, the forum showcased corporate leaders who spoke openly and honestly about the challenges they face and the best practices they employ for advancing women to positions of leadership within their organizations.
Challenges for Women in Business
Panelists and presenters at the forum spoke from personal experience about the unique challenges women face in their career advancement, despite being major stakeholders and contributors to our national economy. Although women account for 46% of the workforce, 89% of all U.S. bank accounts and 57% of college graduates worldwide, there is a shocking disparity in the percentage of women in boardrooms and executive suites. Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University, noted that women hold only 16% of all board seats and 3.4% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies.
During the panel discussion, corporate leaders candidly shared their personal and professional experiences with workplace diversity and discussed the challenges and solutions their companies use to ensure women are included in positions of leadership. One of the key ‘take aways’ from all of the panelists was that a foundational shift is necessary to truly make a difference. Companies must encourage young women to participate in male dominated fields and support them as they enter the workforce. Businesses must provide women with strong flexible work programs and sponsorship opportunities. Leadership needs to engage men in their diversity initiatives and make them accountable for sponsoring rising female talent in their organization.
The executives participating in the forum came from a wide range of organizations that have already demonstrated a significant commitment to retaining and advancing women, as well as world-class leadership, including:
• William Bacic, New England managing partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP
• Micheline Germanos, senior director, Microsoft Corporation
• Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor at Harvard Business School and strategy and leadership expert
• Tom Peters, renowned business leadership author and speaker
• Paul Sagan, president and CEO, Akamai Technologies, Inc.
• Laura Sen, president and CEO, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc.
To move from conversation around women’s advancement to action, Bentley’s Center for Women and Business and large corporations around the globe are implementing organizational transformations that will spur permanent and effective change.
For more details on the event and to watch the keynote speakers, visit the Center for Women and Business website.