CABLE/Lipscomb Study Reveals Women Represent 47% of Workforce, Hold Only 8% of Board Seats

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- Tennessee in last place nationwide for gender diversity in public company governance practices - Board Walk of Fame event Feb. 29 to champion Tennessee companies with diversity at the top

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We encourage business leaders to embrace gender diversity at the board and management levels as a way to increase profitability and improve corporate governance…and because it’s the right thing to do.

The Nashville CABLE and Lipscomb University College of Business 2011 Annual Census of Tennessee “Women in Corporate Leadership,” released today, shows little progress toward gender diversity since the previous year—as well as since 2007, when Lipscomb University’s College of Business first conducted the research. One salient finding is that while women represented 47% of the Tennessee work force in fiscal year 2010, they held only 8% of 566 public company board seats. A snapshot of the Tennessee study results over time is available as a downloadable graphic to the right.

The 2011 Tennessee census and the 2011 InterOrganization Network (ION) national benchmarking study demonstrate that Tennessee companies continue to miss opportunities to reap the benefits of gender diversity in leadership. Both the CABLE/Lipscomb study and the ION report, entitled “Gender Imbalance in the Boardroom: Opportunities to Change Course,” reveal that of the 17 new independent board directors appointed in Tennessee during fiscal year 2010, only three were women.

Supplemented with findings by organizations such as Catalyst and McKinsey & Co., which demonstrate that companies with gender diverse boards and management teams are more profitable over time than their peers, the new CABLE/Lipscomb data suggests that Tennessee companies are neglecting a considerable economic resource by not pursuing executive level, board-qualified women.

“Lipscomb’s College of Business is proud to provide knowledge and insight for Tennessee corporations and we strive to help correct the substantial gender disconnect between our corporate leadership teams and their employee and customer bases,” said Turney Stevens, dean of the Lipscomb University College of Business. “We encourage business leaders to embrace gender diversity at the board and management levels as a way to increase profitability and improve corporate governance…and because it’s the right thing to do.”

“Research shows that companies with greater numbers of women in leadership boast superior financial performance compared to their peers, and best practices in governance increasingly support gender diversity,” said Deborah Palmer George, co-chair of CABLE’s Women on Corporate Boards Committee. “Our organization asserts that by holding the more evolved companies as exemplars and demonstrating the potential for positive bottom-line impact, change will occur.”

With SEC regulations increasingly requiring that boards disclose their efforts to nominate a diverse candidate pool for open board seats, CABLE is poised to serve as a go-to resource for Tennessee companies looking to add qualified female candidates to their leadership teams.

“We’ve uncovered a misconception that high-ranking women with qualifications to serve on public company boards are scarce and this simply isn’t true,” said Susan Huggins, executive director of CABLE. “A rich pool of qualified and diverse candidates is available to companies that understand the importance and benefits of gender diverse boards.”

CABLE will hold its third annual Board Walk of Fame breakfast on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena. The event brings together a network of prominent business leaders and honors corporations and top-level women who have influenced change. Keynote speaker Kathleen McQuiggan, president and founder of Catalina Leadership and Senior Consultant with Pax World Investments, will highlight how institutional and individual investors can make a difference.

CABLE has established resources for identifying women qualified to serve on public company boards. Heads of nominating committees, recruiters or others involved in the director search process may contact Sue Herrman (tel: 615-369-8319; e-mail: sue.herrman[at]infoworks-tn[dot]com), who can facilitate identification of qualified candidates through CABLE, ION and peer organizations around the world.

About CABLE and Women on Corporate Boards
Nashville CABLE is Tennessee’s largest and most established network of professionals with more than 600 members and a 30-year history of helping women reach their full potential. The organization’s mission of “Connecting Women and Opportunity” has shaped its networking programs and advocacy initiatives, and created a forward-thinking infrastructure for expansion nationally. CABLE’s hallmark initiative is Women on Corporate Boards (WOCB), dedicated to increasing numbers of women on Tennessee corporate boards and in the executive suite, and to helping lead that movement nationally. CABLE is a member of the InterOrganization Network (ION), an alliance of 15 women’s organizations with a common mission across the U.S. This provides a national context for benchmarking research and enhances our resources to effect positive change in Tennessee. For more information about CABLE and Women on Corporate Boards, please visit

About Lipscomb University’s College of Business
The Lipscomb College of Business (COB) has conducted the CABLE Women in Corporate Leadership study since 2006. The unique mission of the COB is to equip future business leaders with both professional skills and a strong sense of integrity. To that end, the college has established the Dean Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity to serve as a national forum integrating best practices in governance with integrity and faith for corporate leaders. In 2011, the COB installed the Virtual Board Walk of Fame, a permanent interactive display on campus that honors Tennessee’s female CEOs and directors as well as companies within the state that include women directors. The college offers three graduate degrees in various specialties, eight undergraduate degrees and periodic professional development programs through the School of Executive Education.

Angela Novak
Corner Office Communications
Cell: 615-406-0715

Janel Shoun
Lipscomb University
Office: 615-966-7078
Cell: 615-335-6273


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