“This organizational change is the next logical step for our company and for Ursula,” said Ann Mulcahy, 54, the company’s chief executive and former president, in a press release (Schneiderman, 2007. Para. 3). Not only was this a major change for the XEROX Corporation, but gender in the business world as well. Among the top 500 fortune 500 companies in the U.S. only 12 have a woman in their cheif position. Although there are only 12 women holding the spot in today’s top Fortune 500 companies that Ursula is holding, there still may not be many in the near future. According to John Engler, a former Republican Governor of Michigan, “It’s hard, regardless of color and gender, to reach the high level of responsibility she’s reached” (Wee, 2007. Para. 3). (Referring to Ursula M. Burns).
In the year 2005 a nonprofit advocacy organization that studies women in the work place released statistics proving that women in fortune 500 companies has yet to blossom in the past 10 years. In the year 2005, only 16.4% of corporate office positions were held by women which has only moved up 0.7% since the year 2002. But, there are individuals and organizations taking this issue head on. “Bonnie W. Gwin, president for the Americas at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, said her firm is focusing on the “up and comers” to fill its pipeline of female executive candidates. When a company comes looking for a new officer, Heidrick has a number of smart and driven women — as well as men — to fill the roles” (Joyce, 2006. Para. 9).
So, why is it so hard for women to get these top executive positions? Not only are women judged differently than men, but there obviously just aren’t as many women in the Fortune 500 field. “Companies found that women who are “good citizens” and are helpful to colleagues and clients are not given extra credit for that. Because they are women, it is assumed they will be good team players who help each other, Lang said. But women who don’t act that way are penalized ” (Joyce, 2006. Para. 13). This came in an interview done by Ilene Lang, President of Catalyst Research.
With the emergence of Ursula M. Burns into a top chief position, you can bet that there will be more women, especially African American women, believing that there is hope for companies to believe in female leaders. Burns “is to business what Condi Rice is to government, in terms of someone who never grew up expecting to be a president of a major corporation,” said John Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan and president of the National Association of Manufacturers (Wee, 2007. Para. 3). While the statistics are slowing growing for these women in today’s business and technological positions, quotes by powerful leaders such as these by John Engler only gives hope for the future of women in business and technology leadership roles.