Study: Firms struggling to advance women

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

Sixty-three percent of the workforce at Aipso, an insurance-industry service provider in Johnston, is female. More

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LEADERSHIP

Study: Firms struggling to advance women

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 9/17/12

Sixty-three percent of the workforce at Aipso, an insurance-industry service provider in Johnston, is female.

But the staff is governed by an all-male leadership team.

“[That] didn’t reflect the population,” said Anne Marie D’Attelo, counsel within Aipso’s legal department. “I think having a leadership team at all levels that’s diverse and reflects the employee population would be considered a success.”

The company’s women’s leadership network, IDEAL, for the past year has been working toward promoting female leadership within the organization, something that local female business leaders say is seriously lacking within the state.

The “2020 Vision for Rhode Island” report, released last week at a Sept. 11 breakfast-panel discussion that included D’Attelo, revealed that of 22 large companies from both the private and nonprofit sectors in the state that responded, none had goals for women’s advancement. And 77 percent of nonprofits reported there were obstacles to advancing women within their organizations.

The survey was presented by Marcia Cone, CEO of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, and Susan Colantuono, CEO and founder of Leading Women, who are the Rhode Island delegates to Vision 2020, a national initiative to promote female equality that was developed by the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine.

“This [survey is] the first of its kind in Rhode Island,” Cone said. “We hope meaningful conversations will emerge [on] investing in women’s leadership toward economic prosperity.”

The need for female leadership, Cone said, is based on stark evidence that organizations with shared leadership between men and women perform better financially.

A 2009 study published by a team at Harvard Business School reported that Fortune 500 companies with three or more women directors handed out annual charitable contributions 28 times higher than those with no women directors.

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