The Business of Diversity

Business of Diversity

Annual survey shows that Minnesota leads the nation in women's corporate leadership — but the percentage of women directors and executives remains unchanged.

By Elizabeth Child

Each year for the past five years, St. Catherine University has researched women's representation in the boardrooms and executive suites of Minnesota's largest 100 public corporations. This year, the picture for Minnesota women looks rosy by national standards — yet women's corporate leadership is not growing either in the state or nationally.

The Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership is part of a national body of work compiled by the InterOrganization Network (ION), which includes research from 16 states or regions across the country. Minnesota's Census is conducted by Rebecca Hawthorne, program director of the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL), and Associate Professor of Economics Joann Bangs, who teaches in the MAOL program.

To view the full Minnesota Census, go to Here are highlights of this year's report:

Women Directors

  • Within the top 100 Minnesota public corporations, women hold 14.5 percent of board seats — or 115 of 795 seats.
  • 31 companies have no female board members, 39 have only one woman board member and 30 have more than one women director.
  • Only 14 of the top 100 public companies, or 2 percent, include women of color among their board members.
  • Minnesota ranks fifth in the percentage of women directors nationally. It is first among Fortune 500 companies, with 21.9 percent women director

Women Executive Officers

  • Minnesota leads the nation in the percentage of women executive officers, as defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Within the top 100 public companies, women hold 17.4 percent of executive-officer positions.
  • 36 companies have no women executive officers, 33 have only one woman executive officer, and 31 have two or more women executive officers.

Leading the Way

The following companies have three or more women on their board of directors, considered a tipping point for women having a clear voice:

  • Allette Inc.
  • Christopher & Banks Corp.
  • Ecolab Inc.
  • General Mills Inc.
  • Hormel Foods Corp.
  • Piper Jaffray Companies
  • Select Comfort Corp.
  • Target Corp.
  • Xcel Energy Inc.
  • U.S. Bancorp

Be The Change: Women's Press "Changemakers 2012"

At St. Catherine University, women are encouraged to lead and influence. And sometimes when a woman leads and influences she ends up "promoting self-determination, equality and justice for women and girls." Or at least that's what the editors of the Minnesota Women's Press said about two members of the St. Kate's community in its 2012 Changemakers edition.

Fatuma Mohamed SP'15 and Stacey Poirier, a grants coordinator in the development office, were honored for their work on two separate projects.

Mohamed organized "Hijab Day" to challenge Western assumptions about the head covering worn by Muslim women. This project, and several others she developed, also earned her top billing in the 2012 Minnesota Idea Open, an online contest to find unique ways to break down cultural barriers.

Poirier, artistic director and a founding member of Theatre Unbound, was recognized — along with the theater's executive director, Anne Bertram — for creating more opportunities for women in theater. The 13-year-old Theatre Unbound, which performs in Lowry Lab Theater in downtown St. Paul, received an Ivey Award in September for its all-female production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
—Julie Michener