March 22, 2017

Women make gains in Minnesota’s corporate boardrooms

Left to right: Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership co-authors Joann Bangs and Rebecca Hawthorne. Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10, By Rebecca LLC.

Now in it’s ninth year, the 2016 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership shows the most significant growth in the number and percentages of women on corporate boards and in the executive offices in its history.

The St. Catherine University report is produced by research from the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) program and co-authored by Joann Bangs, dean of the School of Business and Professional Studies, and Rebecca Hawthorne, MAOL program director.

According to the study, available today as a special insert in the April issue of Twin Cities Business magazine, the percentage of women on the boards of Minnesota’s 85 largest public companies rose to 19 percent from 15.5 percent in 2015.

Companies in the Minnesota Census had revenues ranging from less than $1 million to $157 billion and there were 709 available board seats in 2016.

In addition, the total number of companies in the Minnesota Census that have women directors increased to 71 — five more companies than 2015 — despite a decrease in the number of companies in the 2016 sample and a decrease in total available board seats.

Women in senior executive leadership roles — defined in the Census as “Section 16b officers” – rose a half percent to 19.9 percent in this year’s study. However that increase was due to a reduction in the number of companies in the 2016 Census.

“Although I am heartened by this year's Minnesota Census percentages, I encourage Minnesota companies to take a stand toward gender parity in the workplace and aim for 30% women leaders across their organizations by 2030 — not just in their board rooms and senior leadership teams,” said co-author Hawthorne. “The Paradigm for Parity Coalition provides a road map for companies to accomplish this through research-based, measurable, corporate actions.”

Women of color remain on the sidelines

While significant advances in gender parity were made, women of color – the most under represented group in corporate leadership – increased only marginally from 2.7 percent in 2015 to 3.4 percent in the 2016 Census. Despite making up 20 percent of the U.S. population, women of color trail the number of white men, men of color, and white women, according to LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co.

The big why

A growing body of research (Ernest & Young, McKinsey & Co., Credit Suisse, Dezso and Ross) details the positive impact that women leaders once a company has three or more women on its board or the percentage of women on its board exceeds 30 percent:
• Stronger financial performance
• Increased innovation
• Improved decision-making and group performance

“The case for leadership diversity in business is clear,” said ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76 MBA, president of St. Catherine University. “It results in stronger financial performance, creative innovation and a greater ability to adapt in an ever-changing, increasingly multicultural environment.”

Special Distinction and Honor Roll Companies

In the 2016 Census, the number of companies recognized for their efforts to promote women’s leadership on their boards and in their executive offices rose to 19 – the highest in the nine year history of the Census.

Those who have 20 percent or more women corporate directors and 20 percent or more women executive officers receive “Honor Roll” designation. Those with 30 percent or more of both women corporate directors and women executive officers earn “Special Distinction” status.

Four Minnesota companies have been on the Honor Roll for nine years: Christopher & Banks, Deluxe Corp., HMN Financial, Inc., and Target Corp.

Target and Christopher & Banks received Special Distinction status this year along with Best Buy Co. Inc., Electromed, Inc., Patterson Cos., Inc., and Select Comfort Corp.

Honor Roll Companies also include: Apogee Enterprises, Inc., Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc., Clearfield, Inc., G&K Services, Inc., H.B. Fuller Co., Medtronic Plc., MTS Systems Corp., New Ulm Telecom, Inc., Tennant Co., U.S. Bancorp and UnitedHealth Group, Inc.

2017 Women in Leadership Forum

The 2017 Women in Leadership Forum will include highlights of the report, recognize Minnesota’s Honor Roll Companies and a panel discussion on women’s leadership Wednesday, April 12 beginning at 11 a.m. More details at the TCB event website. Online registration is open for the event.