As two male directors retire later this year from the board of General Motors Co., the company will be among a small handful of companies with roughly the same number of men and women at the highest level. Jim Mulva, former CEO of ConocoPhillips, and Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff will seize to serve the board as both turn 72, the retirement age for the automaker’s board.
While the GM’s board will shrink to 11 members, from 13, with two directors not standing for re-election at the annual meeting on June 4, the ratio of the number of women on board will increase with 6 out of 11 seats being occupied by women leaders.
GM is also temporarily waiving the retirement age requirement for Lead Director Tim Solso who is also 72, for one year to assist in the company’s “period of transformation,” shared the company. Six women, including Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra, and five men complete the slate of members up for shareholders’ approval at the annual meeting.
Besides GM, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., are the only other two companies with a current majority of female directors and are both run by male CEOs. General Motors, however, has the leadership of Bara who took on the role of the CEO of the company in 2014. She has focused on strengthening GM’s core business of great cars, trucks, and crossovers and has also led the company towards the journey of transformation of personal mobility through advanced technologies like connectivity, electrification, autonomous driving, and car sharing. Barra has also established a strategic direction based on putting the customer at the center of everything the company does.
Bloomberg reports having seen a huge shift in the participation of women in leading and powerful roles at the largest U.S. companies. The reasons for this shift can be the pressure from investors and employees as well as state-mandated quotas. In fact, as per research, women may now comprise half the members of Russell 3000 company boards by 2034.
While many might think that what is the big deal about women forming the majority of the board, it is hard to ignore that how hard it has been for women across the globe to cross all the hurdles of patriarchy and make it to the leadership teams. Whether social stigma or workplace biases, it is no news that the no. of women in boards and leadership roles like that of the CEO has been fairly less. However, the glass ceiling now has not only been shattered but with the changing perspectives, it has started to slowly disappear.
The journey towards completely removing the glass ceiling is long, but the future is female and we can already see the beginning of it.
Image credits: General Motors