Catalyst 2011 – SO, whats new?

Strauss Group, in Collaboration with Israel Women’s Network, Publish the Second Catalyst Census in Israel – for 2011.

Three years ago, we at Strauss first learned about the existence of Catalyst, a U.S.–based organization, which was established in 1962 with an aim to promote businesses that develop opportunities for women  – both to assist women and for their own business benefit.

Catalyst has members in more than 400 leading U.S. corporations and it operates offices worldwide.

12 years ago, Catalyst decided to start measuring the number of women who work in Fortune 500 companies – an index listing leading U.S. companies- acknowledging the importance of accurate and reliable data that reflects the rate of women’s presence in the 500 most important companies in the U.S.

Such data, they said back then, would shed light on other companies and serve as an indicator (catalyst) for them. Since then, the U.S. Catalyst Census was conducted every year, adding countries that adopted this practice over the years. These include Australia, Japan, South Africa, Britain, Canada, France, and more.

12 years ago, Catalyst decided to start measuring the number of women who work in Fortune 500 companies - an index listing leading U.S. companies

When Strauss learned about this study, which measures the proportion of women’s representation in the largest public companies, we realized that it is very importance to bring it to Israel as well. Here, too, it is important to obtain  precise figures about  women holding senior positions in the largest Israeli  businesses, because when we have accurate figures , we know how to act.

This linked naturally to our social investment strategy at Strauss, which focuses, among other things, on promoting women. The grassroots of Strauss’s social agenda lie deeply in its business strategy. Promoting equality for more than half of the population,  promoting women to senior management positions and advocating a diverse workforce in businesses – all comprise a business rationale.

After all, everything in the business world is measured, right? To prove efficiency and need, and to present results.

Against this background, we came to a decision to launch  the Catalyst Census in Israel a year ago, in cooperation with the Israel Women’s Network.

From the outset, this project was defined as a long term initiative that aims to increase awareness of the importance of appointing more women to executive positions and directors of public companies. We chose to start with the companies listed on the TA-100 index, the largest and most influential companies in the Israeli economy that can “move the needle”.

The first census for 2010 was first published on International Women’s Day 2011, and its findings can be viewed here.

So what has changed in this year’s Catalyst Census, published ahead of the 2012 International Women’s Day?

Boards of directors
– We found that the rate of women serving as chairperson of the board stands at 5%. No change from last year.
– The percentage of women who work as members of the board of directors increased from 15% to 16.5% this year (while 1.5% may look almost insignificant, when you examine the data thoroughly, you understand that out of the total new directors appointed in 2011, namely 61, 23 were women – i.e. 37% of  new director appointments over the past year were women! That’s better than 1.5%, isn’t it?)

– We found that the rate of companies with at least one woman on the board stands at 89%, and this figure remains almost unchanged from last year (88%).
– We found an increase in the number of women serving as directors in more than one company, from 26% to 43%.
– We found an increase in the number of companies where the rate of  women-directors is 25% or more, from 18 to 26 companies.

Senior management
– We found that the rate of women serving as CEO’s declined in 2011 from 5.5% to 4.5%.
– The rate of women holding senior management positions remains unchanged year – 18%.
– Finally, 2011saw an increase in the number of companies where the female CEO’s rate is 25% or more, from 31 to 33 companies.

International comparison
Israel is positioned in a respectable place compared to other countries. In terms of women on boards, Israel ranks  4th (!) after Norway, Sweden and Finland, and preceding the United States. In terms of women in senior managements, Israel ranks second, trailing South Africa. Comparisons were made to countries which hold the Catalyst Census.

In conclusion:
The Catalyst Census, which is basically a count of the number of women serving on boards of directors and managements of the companies listed in the Tel Aviv 100 index, is conducted for the second year. While it is impossible to point to significant changes from last year, there are small changes that once examined thoroughly , unveil a bigger story behind them, as part of the progress being made. Progress in the mere existence of data, facts and measurement. Stagnated data is also a finding that highlights a certain reality. Once we persistently continue to hold this census every year, which we aim to do, we will be able to drive action, target a desired change, and affect in an informed manner decision-makers that head public companies in Israel.

From there on, the road to filtering this message through to other companies will already become shorter.

You can view the latestIsrael Catalyst Census findings for 2011 here

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Osnat Golan
Osnat Golan
VP Corp Communications, Digital, Sustainability & Spokesperson
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Gil Messing
Dir. External Communications & Government Relations
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Anat Lev-Confortes