Women Still Lag in Corporate Pay, Promotions: Study

Women saw little advancement in pay and corporate boardrooms in 2010, extending a trend in which companies have lagged in promoting women, a study released Monday shows.

“This is our fifth report where the annual change in female leadership remained flat. If this trend line represented a patient’s pulse, she’d be dead,” said Ilene Lang, president and chief executive of Catalyst, a non-profit organization that advocates greater opportunities for women.

“Corporate America needs to get ‘unstuck’ when it comes to advancing women to leadership,” Lang said.

The study was based on annual filings made by Fortune 500 companies to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or, in the case of insurance companies, to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

It found that 136 of the Fortune 500 companies had no women executives, among them Exxon Mobil Corp., Berkshire Hathaway, Citigroup Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Sears Holding Corp.

Women held 14.4 percent of executive officer positions in 2010, up from 13.5 percent in 2009, and female executive officers held 7.6 percent of the top earning positions, up from 6.3 percent in 2009, the 2010 Catalyst Census showed.

The best five companies in terms of women in the executive suite were Gap, H&R Block, Limited Brands , TIAA-CREF and Western Union.

Women held 15.7 percent of board seats in 2010, a 0.5 percentage point gain over 2009, and more than 10 percent of companies lacked any women on their boards in 2009 and 2010.

Catalyst research showed men with mentors were promoted more and compensated at a higher rate than women, while women with mentors were far less likely to be promoted or paid more as a result of being mentored.

Companies need to be convinced that diversity in leadership is important, Lang said.

“To be successful, they have to have more points of view — people from all kinds of backgrounds — and have diversity in the senior leadership,” she said.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr. Editing by Daniel Trotta, Greg McCune and Robert MacMillan)