Women on Boards


Few Women in Oil and Gas

The 29 public U.S. companies with no women among top executives or the board of directors cover a diverse selection of industries. One-third of the companies are in oil and gas, and Diamond Offshore Drilling which all declined to comment. According to Bloomberg Rankings, the oil and gas sector has the lowest percentage of women directors, at 9.6 percent.In some cases, the argument is that there simply aren't enough qualified women to earn a seat on a specific company board. If you want a board that has oil and gas experts, then you're picking from the same pool.
Lacking Technical Knowledge
the corporate secretary for Pioneer Natural Resources, Mark Kleinman says: "There is some challenge, because our board looks for deep industry experience and technical experience where it can find it. You have to look back to where this industry looked 30 years ago. That was a time when it was not heavily populated with women in the leadership."Terry Savage, who sat on the board of Pennzoil-Quaker State for six years—says there are women qualified to sit on the boards of oil and gas companies."The fact is that more than half the employees of that hugely industrial corporation were women," Savage says. "I did not have to be an expert on drilling to be on that board. There is always something that a woman can contribute.
Tokenism
The number of women on boards grew throughout the 1990s and 2000s, but that growth has leveled off in recent years. Experts and female board members interviewed for this story say that when boards have only one woman, it's often just a token gesture of gender diversity.The vast majority of board members are men, and just 2.6 percent of board chairmanships are held by women, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that focuses on women and business. Only three companies in the S&P 500 have women who hold more than 40 percent of the board seats: Avon Products, Estée Lauder, and Macy's. There is a concern that some of the initial progress was tokenism, so the company can check that box off they now have quote unquote gender diversity.
Diversity by Law
Numerous European companies have tried to enforce equality by creating quotas for corporate boards. Norway, Spain, and France have imposed legal quotas to increase board seats held by women. Currently, 37.9 percent of directors at Norway's largest companies are women, with the 40 percent target legally required by 2017 for companies with 500 employees and annual sales of more than $71 million."If you only have one woman on a board then it can be difficult," says Alvarez, who notes that the experience can be "isolating and intimidating." She continues: "If you have at least some numbers, then you feel more empowered about opening up and expressing your doubts."