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Now comes the hard part

3/5/2018

Over the past three issues, WBJ has detailed the gender disparity in Central Mass. business leadership through The Boardroom Gap series. The first part on Feb. 5 showed women are vastly underrepresented in the region's senior executive and board positions. Part two on Feb. 19 showed companies with greater gender diversity perform better. This issue's final part shows how the disparity can be decreased.

If progress will be made on this issue, it will come down to local business leaders reprioritizing their value systems and ceding power. Family businesses always passing the company down to the oldest son or male-dominated firms preferring to promote from within must see the value to the bottom line in changing that thinking. Reaching an equitable gender breakdown isn't about always hiring women; it's about changing your criteria to include varied expertises and skillsets.

In the 36-year history of WBJ awarding our Business Leaders of the Year, the honoree class had never been 50 percent or more women. A woman was the honoree twice in the 1980s and 1990s when only one person won annually, but since BLOY expanded to categories in 2003, the winners had been majority male.

This year, as BLOY expanded to five categories and included three WBJ Hall of Fame inductees, about 50 nominees were under serious consideration for the awards, and we included criteria we wouldn't have considered even a decade ago. Amy Lynn Chase is among the youngest BLOY winners ever, but there's no denying her impact on Worcester's Canal District. Rachel Lopez is her company's No. 2 executive, but she's played an outsized hand in growing it from a small startup to a multi-state agency. Amjad Bahnassi's excellent work for nearly 30 years as a psychiatrist has been out of the limelight, but he elevated his profile in the Greater Worcester economy by developing an office building.

Many great nominees were left on the cutting-room floor, and one or two might have won in previous years under BLOY's traditional criteria. And that's the point. In order to create a better value system, you have to change your values. Sometimes that means good people get reshuffled in the changes. That's the hard part. But by improving your value system, you improve your results.

- Brad Kane, editor

Read the entire Boardroom Gap series

Feb. 5 edition
– WBJ's Findings: Women vastly underrepresented in Central Mass. corporate leadership
– The Pay Gap: Central Mass. male executives make $1.3M vs. $573K for women

– Editorial OpinionThe importance of diversity
– Letter from the Editor: Can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results
Feb. 19 edition 

- Feeling Marginalized: Central Mass. businesswomen who've sat in positions of power say they don't get the same automatic credibility as men
– Gender Diversity = Profits: Companies with a greater mix of women in leadership perform better
March 5 edition 

– Narrowing the Boardroom Gap: Financial, legislative and cultural pressures are creating more gender diverse business leadership
– The Best Candidate Gets the Job: Diverse candidate pools lead to diverse companies, leading local firms say
– Letter from the Editor: Now comes the hard part
– Viewpoint Opinion: Women of color need to break the concrete ceiling