Janet Yellen, Christine Lagarde: Women in Positions of Power on the Rise?

As of January 2014, Janet Yellen will most likely become the most powerful woman in the world when she takes on her role as head of the Federal Reserve Bank – a first for the institution that has never before had a female chairman.

The nomination of Yellen, as well as the appointment of Christine Lagarde as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2011, are both important signs of the changing times.  More and more women are taking on greater responsibility in the corporate world and rising to high power positions.

During the Council’s first International Forum in November 2012, the question of women and their place on corporate boards was one of the prevailing topics discussed. During the parallel session: “Women on Boards: Director Gender Quotas”, Professors Karin Thorburn (Norwegian School of Economics and Lindenauer Center for Corporate Governance at Tuck) and Viviane de Beaufort (ESSEC Business School), Noreen Doyle, Director of Credit Suissé and Susan Lindenauer, Director of the Women’s Legal Defense Funds discussed the growing presence of women on boards, the reasons why more women are serving as directors and how women contribute on boards.

Overall, the speakers examined two key points:

  • The representation of women on boards has grown as companies have increasingly bought into the value of diversity. However, among Fortune 500 companies in the United States, only 16% of directors are women.
  • Failing to include women on boards is a missed opportunity because women bring important skills, experiences and insights. Boards that fail to include women are making a mistake, are falling behind and are missing out on including important voices in critical decisions.

Both the IMF and now the Federal Reserve are catching on and understanding the tremendous strengths and capabilities women bring to boards, but are there still too few women in such powers of position? And, how can we increase the numbers?

Find out what Noreen Doyle has to say about it.

For more information about the parallel session: “Women on Boards: Director Gender Quotas”, feel free to download the White Paper!

More than just an annual forum, the Council on Business & Society Global Alliance is an ongoing international dialogue – The Council Community helps bring together business leaders, academics and journalists from around the world. #CouncilonBusinessandSociety

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