Women, and in particular women of color, are significantly underrepresented in public and private senior leadership positions in Summit County, a new study says.

The county lags national figures in terms of gender leadership equity, according to a report released Thursday by the Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio.

The report collected data on more than 5,000 leaders at 348 employers and 167 nonprofit boards, covering private, nonprofit and public sectors and publicly traded companies located in the county.

The report also included information gathered from a survey of 447 Summit County professionals.

The report said that judicial seats is the only leadership category in the public sector in which women achieve majority status. Women hold 66 percent of local judicial seats, well exceeding 33 percent nationally. Summit County, for the first time, has an all-female bench in its common pleas general division.

The findings show that action, not more information, is needed to address the gender and racial inequity issues that show Summit County fares poorly in national comparisons, said Dr. Jennifer Savitski, president of the Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio and chair of obstetrics at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

The goal of the report is not to point fingers but to effect real change, she said.

“We really feel our community is up for the challenge and ready to take it on,” Savitski said. “We want to be the change.”

The findings dovetail into the new Elevate Greater Akron efforts by the Greater Akron Chamber and local governments to increase diversity and inclusion, she said.

“We are doing a lot of work with the Greater Akron Chamber,” Savitski said.

Where Summit County did well, in particular with a significant majority of women in judicial positions, came about because of deliberate effort on the part of women and men, Savitski said.

When women are fairly represented in leadership positions in companies and organizations, those groups do better, she said. Gender diversity benefits everyone, she said.

The Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio is developing a tool kit that businesses and organizations of all sizes can use to implement the changes needed to improve gender equity, Savitski said. The tool kit will be ready by the end of the year or early 2020.

“We want to tailor the tool. There’s no one-size-fits-all,” she said.

The report’s key findings for the county:

• Women, and especially women of color, are significantly underrepresented across the senior leadership landscape.

• Women’s representation in Summit County leadership — including in the private sector — lags national data, with representation of less than 30 percent in any leadership level or category.

• Female top earners in the private sector are paid 75 percent of what male top earners make, and female nonprofit CEOs make 82 percent of what their male counterparts make.

• Fewer than 10 percent of top earners at public companies in Northeast Ohio are women.

• Commonly held misconceptions about women’s ambition to lead and work/life balance preferences are not true, as women expressed nearly equal work aspirations as men. Women are seeking senior leadership positions, the report said.

• Women and men report experiencing and perceiving their workplaces far differently in terms of opportunity, inclusion and commitment to diversity in leadership.

• In Summit County, 5 percent of mayors are women, compared to 22 percent nationally.

• Women hold 41 percent of nonprofit board seats, compared to 48 percent nationally. (The local number has not changed since 2014.)

• Local representation for women CEOs is slightly higher than top 500 companies nationally.

• Women hold 18 percent of senior leadership positions in Summit County’s private sector versus 30 percent nationally; these numbers fall to 1 percent and 5 percent respectively for women of color.

The report said that while women make up 52 percent of the county population, they hold 18 percent of senior leadership roles in the private sector.

The report also said that women make up less than 10 percent of all top earners at public companies in Northeast Ohio, with no women of color among top earners.

The findings show that while women make up 45 percent of executive director positions in the female-dominated nonprofit sector of Summit County, just four women (or 20 percent) and no women of color are represented among the top 20 highest-paid nonprofit executive directors.

The full report can be found at https://tinyurl.com/womensnetworkreport.

 

 

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ