It is hard to know what to think about the status of women in business today. This past month, I read the article in the Huffington Post about the seminar offered by accounting giant, Ernst & Young, to its female executives, which included advice about the importance of manicured nails and the right skirt length, and compared the brains of women and men to different breakfast entrees, i.e., “Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus, the attendees were told. Men’s brains are more like waffles. They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square.” It was deflating and disappointing to read about such institutional misogyny.
However, I literally read this article moments after reading Milwaukee Women’s Inc.’s Building Momentum! 2019 Research Report, which described the organization’s progress toward its goal of increasing the number of women directors in the Top 50 Wisconsin Public Companies to 25% by 2025. As Milwaukee Women, Inc., explains, they have already achieved their goal of 20% by 2020, so they are well on their way. In direct contrast with the Huffington Post article, this report was inspiring and uplifting.
Milwaukee Women, Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving balanced representation of women on boards of directors to maximize the performance of Wisconsin businesses. The members of Milwaukee Women, Inc., have been working on this effort since 2002. TEMPO Madison has recently taken on a similar objective with the Project Reach Committee, whose mission is to increase the number TEMPO Madison members serving on corporate and business boards. The Committee is already planning for surveys, workshops, mentoring, and networking opportunities, designed to get our members ready for corporate and business board service and to make sure corporations and businesses looking for board members know that TEMPO Madison is a great resource. In upcoming TEMPO Madison newsletters, we will provide you with additional information about Project Reach and how to get involved.
In addition, TEMPO Madison’s second leadership series breakfast, in partnership with the Wisconsin Evening & Executive MBA Programs at University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with exclusive sponsor, Summit Credit Union, will highlight the issue of women on corporate and business boards. Lindsey Hammerer, who is a partner at KPMG and chair of Milwaukee Women, Inc., will be discussing pathways to corporate board leadership to change the face and quality of leadership in the Wisconsin business community by increasing the number of women corporate directors. Please consider registering for the breakfast event, which is scheduled to take place on April 28, 2020, at the Madison Club, starting at 7:30 a.m.
After considering the depressing messages from the Ernst & Young seminar and the encouraging news of the Milwaukee Women, Inc., report, I am left to conclude that we have come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to do, so we mustn’t lose focus.
Shana Lewis, 2019-2020 President