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Network members get a 'B' on diversity quiz

Tuesday, February 7, 2012  
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The consumer products and retail industry has a fair handle on gender diversity facts, but widespread perceptions of women’s roles in the workplace don’t always match reality.

Network of Executive Women members fared well, but didn’t ace, the NEW Diversity Quiz, an informal online test the Network presented in January. Respondents were entered in a drawing for a free registration to the NEW CPG Retail Diversity Forum, the industry’s leading diversity and inclusion event to be held March 6-8 in Dallas.

In some areas, industry players overestimated women’s role and progress in the workplace. In other areas, they underestimated progress made.

Fewer than 30 percent of the 253 NEW members participating in the informal survey knew that women make up 49 percent of the U.S. non-farm workforce. Nearly six in 10 respondents believed women make up 53 percent of the U.S. non-farm workforce. (Another nearly 15 percent thought 44 percent of the non-farm workforce is women.)

What’s more, fewer than half of the quiz-takers knew that full-time working women earned just 81 percent of the median weekly earnings of their male counterparts in 2010. Forty percent of the quiz-takers believed women earned less than that or 76 percent of earnings of men. One in 10 of the respondents thought women earned 92 percent of what men earn.

NEW members had a better grasp on women’s representation in leadership roles. Most (89.4 percent) knew that women hold 14 percent of executive officer positions on Fortune 500 boards (not 26 percent or 34 percent, the other possible answers). Only four in 10 members, however, knew the retail industry compares favorably to the Fortune 500 average, with 18 percent of women holding executive positions.

Most of the quiz-takers also underestimated the number of women on Fortune 500 boards. Nearly 55 percent believed women hold 4 percent of those board seats. Actually, they hold 16 percent (answered correctly by 39 percent of respondents). Nearly 7 percent of the respondents thought women hold 24 percent of those executive roles.

NEW members taking the quiz, however, recognized how few women of color are represented on Fortune 500 boards. Fifty-six percent of respondents knew that only 3 percent of Fortune 500 board seats are held by women of color (another nearly 40 percent of the quiz-takers thought women of color hold 7 percent of the seats; fewer than 3 percent of respondents thought women of color control 17 percent of the seats.)

The winner of the free registration for the NEW Diversity Forum, valued at $1,195, was Lisa Hull, director, customer supply chain integration for PepsiCo. Hull was selected in a random drawing that included all of the online quiz participants.

Our drawing is closed, but you can take the survey for fun at

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