Monday, November 22, 2010

Paycheck Fairness Act - Defeated

Last week this bill was defeated. (click here from FB) There were many articles written about this issue which frankly left me somewhat confused. Like many, I quote the statistic that women in the US continue to be paid 77 cents to the male dollar, and taken at face value, no one would say that is fair. But this is a complex number. Clearly some of the difference can be explained by the fact that women often opt for lesser paid jobs, often work part-time, require more flexibility, and often withdraw from the work-force for periods of time. That said many experts say there is still a hefty residual that cannot be explained by these factors.

This was from the White House - " Most economists agree, however, that no matter how many variables you control for an unexplained wage gap between men and women persists. For example, Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn did an excellent breakdown of the wage gap in 2007 and identified that 41% of the wage gap between men and women could not be explained by controlling for variables. Regardless of the precise percentage of the wage gap, we have a responsibility to ensure that no one in this country makes less as a result of his or her gender."

This from Valerie Jarrett's office - Click here. Lily Ledbetter pictured.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Financial Times - Women At The Top

The FT published a list of their top 50 women in world business. It is a fascinating list. Many of the obvious Fortune 500 Women CEOS were of course there, but this list is a global one, and it included many women I have never heard of. Of particular note were a number of young women business owners from China who founded billion dollar companies. Wow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sylvia Ann Hewlett and The Center for Work Life Policy

I adore Sylvia and had the honor of serving on the board of The Center For Work Life Policy, an organization she started, for many years. ( click here from FB) The center does cutting edge research on human capital management issues and the Hidden Brain Drain Task-Force turns this research in to action. For a list of their research click here.

Thursday Sylvia had an OPED published in the Financial Times called "A Final Push Can Break the Glass Ceiling" on their newest Sponsor Effect research. It is an extremely well written piece and a timely one given the prior days announcement of a new round of GS partners.

Here is my summary of her article:

- Yes progress but women still hold only 15% of corporate board seats, make up less then 5% of top earners and 3% of Fortune 500 CEOS. Numbers are worse in the UK.
-Why? Talk of discrimination,work/family trade-offs, lack of the 'vision thing', nor ambitious enough. She says.. much more to it.
-Her new research - "women who are qualified to lead stall not for lack of drive, but for lack of push." It is about sponsorship.
-Why the difficulties in getting sponsors? Reluctance to give women feedback, fear of mentor ship either being perceived as or leading to more (the sex thing), and more.
- UK is pushing forward with a 'plan to take female representation on corporate boards to 50%."
- This week on Tuesday "a group of major companies launched a new "30% club" aiming to increase female board representation to 30% by 2015."

Personally I was blessed to have some amazing sponsors at GS, including a man named Mike Mortara who was my immediate boss and later the head of fixed income. There is no doubt that I would not have made partner without his intentional support and mentor ship. There were others as well and I could not agree more with Sylvia's findings and the importance of these strong relationships. Later when I worked on the partner selection process it was so clear that without a senior person pushing for the candidate, they were less likely to make it through. When push came to shove and it was one candidate versus another, the power and voice of who was in the room pushing for them made all the difference. It was also my experience that it was more likely that a woman did not have that voice in the room, and their road to partnership became much longer.

Thank you Sylvia for the work you do. It is truly an honor to be in your circle and connected to the work of the Center. If you have not already read it, I would highly recommend Syliva's book "Creating a Life: What Every Women Needs to Know about Having A Child and a Career," as well as her latest, "On Ramps and Off Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success." ( click here for Amazon)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Goldman Announces a New Partner Class

It is a big day for over 100 people who were named the new Goldman Partners. I remember getting the phone call in 1996 from Jon Corzine, as did my husband Greg, and it was special indeed. At the ripe old age of 32 I was invited to be part of a club, perhaps the club, and one of only a handful of women to be so named. Two years ago I wrote an oped about it, and in the words of Forest Gump - "That's all I have to say about it." Well.. maybe not all, but that is all I have to say for now.
Congratulations to all the new partners, and in particular the women partners. Use your position wisely and for the benefit of the women to follow. Though I cannot tell how many of the new partners are women one web-site said it was 10%, which if true, is disappointing. For a leader in corporate diversity my fingers are crossed that the numbers are much, much higher.
ps - I hope you all are still having that brunch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are Stocks Overpriced? Yes says Jeremy Grantham

"It [the Federal Reserve] wants us to go out there and buy stocks, which are overpriced because bonds they have manipulated into being even less attractive," (click here from FB) said Grantham, who is chief investment strategist of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, a Boston-based asset management firm, and a respected voice in the financial world. "So, we’re being forced to choose between two overpriced assets. That is not always a terrific choice to make because there is a third choice, and that is, 'don't play the game and hold money in cash.'" ( From CNBC)

I agree with the above, but would point out that the primary goal of 'manipulating' interest rates was to provide support for the housing market, as well as making money more affordable to support both business investment and private spending. The rise in equity valuations since late summer has been astonishing, and at these entry points, I am on the sidelines as well. Our favorite asset continues to be Gold. Jim Cramer was jumping up and down about it yesterday and is in words " talk to me about price when it is 5% of portfolios."

Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eve Ensler's List of Most Powerful Feminists

Eve Ensler was asked to create a list for FORBES ( click here from FB) of the the most powerful feminists. Cool. I wish I could say I know all these women, but only one, Pat Mitchell, do I now well. To see them all, click here. ( it is a slide show)

Eve would most certainly be on the top of my last of powerful and influential feminists. Eve is a role model in how you can leverage your skills, your passions, your platform to change the world. Big time! Her cause? To end violence against Women. I am a proud supporter of V-Day and I hope you are too! Violence is not a women's issue it is a human rights issue. I have had the pleasure of meeting Eve many times and she is the real deal.

Another amazing woman who has dedicated her life to ending violence against women is Jodie Evans of Code Pink. Jodie is a sister in the Women Moving Millions Movement, that I am honored to be a part of. I have only seen her wear PINK. Talk about wearing your values, again, totally inspiring. Spend some time on the CODE PINK web-site it is an amazing resource for all who care about human rights.

What is a feminist? Feminism refers to movements aimed at establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. ( Wikipedia)

( Please note there is nothing in the definition about being anti-male or 'radical'. By this definition I truly hope everyone sees themselves as a feminist.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Elections, Quantitative Easing and more....

Sorry for the lack of blog entries this past week. I spent Monday and Tuesday at a board meeting for the Women's Funding Network and spent the rest of the week trying to catch up! I really don't have much to say about the election results, except that it is going to be tough going in Washington. There are so many problems that need tough, thoughtful analysis and decision making and I doubt much will get done over the next few years. More in my realm of expertise has been the action by the FED to expand their balance sheet by another trillion. The Wall Street Journal has been doing some excellent writing on this including Wednesday's oped "High Rollers at the Fed." They say "this is a monetary mistake" which will have fiscal risks. The Fed's balance sheet is more than $2.3 trillion, including $1.1 trillion of mortgage backed securities. When you add in what is held by Fannie and Freddie is is mind blowing. The good news ( ha ha ) is of course that the FED has earned $76 billion by driving down interest rates, but the bad news is that there is no exit strategy. If mortgage rates were to rise 100 bps from 4% to 5% it is estimated they would love $162 billion. Honestly, I cannot even wrap my mind around this. It is unprecedented and I think extremely dangerous for our economy. For a detailed analysis Bill Gross' recent commentary is a MUST READ.