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Talent waits in the wings for Minnesota companies

St. Catherine University's Joann Bangs (left) and Rebecca Hawthorne have co-authored the Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership.
St. Catherine University's Joann Bangs (left) and Rebecca Hawthorne have co-authored the Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership.
Rebecca Zenefski '10.

The 2012 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership illustrates that despite growing statewide diversity, the majority of Minnesota companies remain led by white males.

 The Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership examines the percentage of women on the boards and in the executive suites of Minnesota's top 100 publicly traded companies. St. Catherine University and the Minnesota Women's Economic Roundtable have collaborated to produce the Census for the past five years.

Women control 73 percent of U.S. household spending decisions, but the 2012 census shows that women hold only 14.5 percent of the board seats of Minnesota's top 100 public companies -- and that figure has remained stagnant for five years.

Despite an increase in the number of women appointed to corporate boards increasing by 10 percentage points, the overall number of women represents only a 0.3 percent increase due to company relocations and a subsequent decrease in the overall number of board seats available.

Where gains are being made

The Census honors "Special Distinction" companies whose boards and executive suites (defined as Section 16B officers by the Securities and Exchange Commission) are made up of at least 30 percent women.  A 2006 research report by the Wellesley Centers for Women showed that a minimum of three women is needed on a corporate board to impact how the board operates and makes decisions.

 Target Corporation and MTS Systems Corporation have earned "Special Distinction" status in the Minnesota honor roll for each of the past five years.  In 2009, CyberOptics Corporation earned this designation, and this year Christopher & Banks Corporation and Select Comfort Corporation also earned this distinction. 

“The significant change in individual companies, such as Christopher & Banks and Select Comfort reaching 30 percent women both on their boards and in their executive offices, is a hopeful sign,” said Joann Bangs, census co-author and interim dean of St. Catherine University’s School of Business and Professional Studies. “These women may be the ones making a difference on corporate boards in the future.”

 With 17.4 percent of executive suite positions held by women, Minnesota leads the nation in this category. Nine companies had a net increase in women executive officers in 2012, while 14 companies had a net decrease.   Executive officers are defined (under SEC 16b rules) as president, chief financial officer and other officers who lead business units or divisions as well as those who have policy-making responsibilities.

Further discussion

The fifth edition of the Minnesota Census appears in the April issue of Twin Cities Business magazine and it will be discussed in depth by a panel of leaders at the Women in Corporate Leadership luncheon at the Golden Valley Country Club, April 9.

Moderated by TCB Editor in Chief Dale Kurschner, the panel includes: Esperanza Guerrero-Anderson, president of Guerrero-Anderson, Inc.; Angela Busch, senior vice-president of corporate development, Ecolab, Inc.; Mary Brainerd, president and CEO, HealthPartners; and Sharon Jones, vice-president of technology, ATK Sporting Group.

More about the census

The Minnesota Census is part of a national initiative by the InterOrganization Network, or ION. Made up of 16 states or regions throughout the country, ION is a nonprofit organization dedicated to women's advancement on corporate boards.

The 2012 Census, as well as past census data from the four years are available online.


Data for the Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership is gathered from company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The most recent data examined was accessed online through EDGAR and includes reports through June 30, 2012.  Requests for data were also sent directly to Minnesota companies.

The census examines the percentage of women in leadership roles at the 100 largest publicly held companies headquartered in Minnesota as ranked by 2012 net revenue in the Star Tribune 100: 21st Annual Report (May 2012) and the Minneapolis/ St. Paul Business Journal top 100 list (March 2012).

March 21, 2013 by Julie Michener

See also: Business, Faculty, Leadership