In fact, it's even worse than the workforce average. It's an oft-quoted statistic that women only hold 3.8% of the CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. And that's low. And disappointing. But when you look at just retail corporations within the fashion industry? The number drops to 1.7%.
When it comes to the makeup of boards of directors, the numbers look a little better, though it's still far cry from the 50% goal: 17.9% of all retailer boards are filled with women (compared to 16.1% overall), even though it's been shown that companies with at least three female board directors rake in more money than those without.
The culprits? Longstanding, systemic, covert (for the most part) sexism, where men-dominated boards of directors pick a CEO (from a limited pool of former CEOs, also mostly men), and the fact that women are not able to access workplace support systems like in-office day-care and maternity leave, at many places, industry-wide.
Says Jan Combopiano, vice president and chief knowledge officer at Catalyst, the firm that conducted this study, "It's not this overt sexual harassment or discrimination anymore. But the underlying system that's in place. People heave been definitely inattentive to fixing that system, but it's really going to take champions, people who are willing to put themselves out there and say the system isn't working." (WWD)