St. Catherine University has a deep commitment to the mission of educating women to lead and influence. Our School of Business develops strong and diverse women leaders who positively transform organizations to shape a better world. The production of the annual Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership is one distinct way in which St. Kate's invests in this commitment and holds us all accountable for supporting women in leadership.
Over the past 14 years, St. Catherine University has established the Census as the leading source on women in corporate leadership. St. Kate’s remains the only institution in Minnesota conducting this important research, which includes women of color.
The 2021 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership saw important gains for BIPOC women and white women—most notably those serving on Special Distinction boards of directors. Social justice awareness resulted in external pressure to diversify corporate boards, and this pressure can be credited for the gains seen locally. However, it is a great disappointment that these pressures failed to make a significant impact on female representation among executive officers.
President Roloff on this Year’s Women in Corporate Leadership Census
“When women and girls continue to be given the space and opportunity to be who they are destined to be … that can only be beneficial to everyone.” These words, shared by Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett when she visited St. Catherine University earlier this year, were on my mind as I reviewed the data from this year’s Women in Corporate Leadership Census report. Dr. Corbett led the National Institutes of Health team that developed the vaccine modeling used to create many of the COVID-19 vaccine products. She shared what she’s learned from her leadership journey with our students. There is remarkable progress to celebrate in this year’s report for women’s representation on corporate boards. Minnesota corporate boards today can be proud of the fact that the number of women members is at an all-time high. For BIPOC women, the leap in representation was notable, jumping 54% in just one year. These companies will benefit from this representation, according to a study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics. It reported that companies with policies that facilitate women rising through the corporate ranks more broadly increase the firm’s skill diversity.¹ Compare the representation of women on Minnesota’s corporate boards to executive leadership roles, and women — especially BIPOC women — are still scarce. In fact, Minnesota lags in this area when compared to the national average. The presence of women in executive roles is a critical pipeline for continued growth of representation on board seats. Last fall, Corporate Women Directors International released its survey results that showed on average, companies with a woman CEO had significantly more women both on their boards of directors and in executive officer positions.² Knowing this, what are you doing to connect mentors with those in their ranks who are future leaders? How do you model leadership in your executive and board seats? St. Kate’s models this on our own leadership team, and we are proud to graduate thousands of leaders each year who are ethical, intelligent, inclusive — and, yes, more than half of them BIPOC women. More than 85% of them stay in Minnesota. Take a moment today to consider who your mentors were, where your supports showed up on your own path. Then ask yourself what you or your company can do, over and above what you already do, to connect with even more BIPOC emerging leaders on their journeys. We can’t let our momentum diminish now.
ReBecca Koenig Roloff
President, St. Catherine University
¹ Kotschwar, B., Moran, T., Noland, M. (2016) Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey
TCB Talks: Women In Leadership
St. Catherine University is proud to be the presenting sponsor of TCB Talks: Women In Leadership, held on April 19, 2022, a conversation about gender equity and diversity in corporate leadership.