While you may still be reeling from the Wal-Mart debacle, know this: The nation's largest employer is far from being the only company with serious issues regarding women. And when it comes to gender balance, Urban Outfitters isn't willing to change.
MSNBC.com contributor Eve Tahmincioglu reports that the top echelons of most U.S. companies remain very white and very male. And it's not just heartland companies like Wal-Mart: Count Urban Outfitters among the offenders. Tahmincioglu writes:
Last month, Calvert Investments and Connecticut's Treasurer tried to get Urban Outfitters to agree to consider bringing women and minorities onto its seven-member, all-white male board.
"What we asked was that every time they consider a slate of directors, they also consider a woman and or a minority as part of that slate," said Aditi Mohapatra, a senior analyst with Calvert, an investment management company that focuses on socially-conscious investing. The shareholder proposal didn't require that more diverse candidates be appointed, she noted, just that they agree to make a concerted effort to at least think about diversity.
Urban Outfitters didn't budge.
"They said, ‘We don't have any diversity problem,'" Mohapatra said.
Wow. Maybe this complete disinterest in making an effort towards diversity is why their models always look so miserable?
U.S. companies cannot be forced to meet gender quotas on boards, or in management jobs. But other countries are trying it, since the lack of female leaders in business is a global problem. Tahmincioglu mentions that in 2003, "Norway passed a law requiring that the boards of publicly held companies consist of at least 40 percent female members, up from about 10 percent that was the average at the time." We don't even have that kind of legislation in the works. But unless little girls start dreaming of being CEOs instead of princesses (which seems possible!), we'll continue to be in trouble. Just FYI:
The lack of women leaders in corporate America is a problem that has only become worse during the economic downturn.