Where are the women?

Where are the women?

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In a survey of top companies in our industry, Alan Burkitt-Gray finds only one – Colt – with a majority of women in the management team. Some are all men

In May, Colt recruited Google Cloud’s Jaya Deshmukh as its new executive VP of strategy and transformation. Her appointment meant that five of the top nine management positions in Colt are held by women. But, as far as I can tell, Colt is alone. No other company in our industry has a majority of women on the senior management team.

Few have even a significant number. Many have just one or two and – without demeaning those roles – it is often the case that they are in HR, legal or marketing jobs.

Women CEOs are few. Notable exceptions are Keri Gilder at Colt, Frehiwot Tamiru at Ethio Telecom, Elisabetta Romano at Sparkle and Allison Kirkby at Telia Company.


The Dutch baron

One company, STC in Saudi Arabia, has as many Dutch barons in its leadership team as women: one of each. Mudhi Aljamea, who has a PhD in computer security from King’s College London, is dean of the STC Academy. Apart from her, there is no woman around the management table to discuss strategy with 34 men.

In the Americas, despite many years of advancing the cause of women in senior management, the record is poor.

AT&T lists two women and seven men on its leadership page on its website. Among the men are the group CEO, the CFO and the CEO of AT&T Communications.

One of the two women is Lori Lee, CEO of AT&T Latin America and the group’s global marketing officer. The other? Angela Santone, who is in charge of HR. No surprises there.

Verizon’s top 12 include four women: Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business; Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer; Rose Stuckey Kirk, head of corporate social responsibility; and HR chief Christy Pambianchi. The consumer head, the CFO and the CTO are men.

Of the 14 members of the Bell Canada leadership team, just three are women. The CEO is a man. So are the CIO, CTO and CFO. Of the three women, Claire Gillies is head of Bell Mobility; Devorah Lithwick is chief brand officer; and Karine Moses is head of content development and news.

Lumen, known as CenturyLink until 2020, has a leadership team of nine men and two women. Among the men are, almost unsurprisingly, the CEO, the CFO and the CTO, but also, unusually, the head of HR. The women on the team are Laurinda Pang, head of global operations – global customer success, Lumen calls her job – and Maxine Moreau, head of mass markets.


One out of 30

Hard to spot any women in the comprehensive list of senior management on América Móvil’s website, which includes Telmex and subsidiaries across Latin America. There are about 30 men – some appear more than once – and Patricia Raquel Hevia Coto, COO of Telcel. That’s it.

China Mobile lists four executive directors and a senior management team of four, as well as non-executive directors. You need to be male for any of those roles, apparently.

Zhu Min is CFO of China Telecom, and she is also secretary of the board. All her colleagues are men, although there is one woman who is a non-executive director: as such, she doesn’t play a role in the day-to-day management of the company.

Telstra’s leadership team of 10 has three women, working with a male CEO and six other men. Vicki Brady is CFO, Alexandra Badenoch heads transformation and people, and Lyndall Stoyles is general counsel. Men head networks and IT, infrastructure, technology and business services.

Tata Communications in India lists nine senior leaders – all men, including the CEO, CFO and chief digital officer, alongside just one woman, Genius Wong, who is the chief product and technology officer.

In Africa there are 15 people listed as members of the executive committee of the MTN group, and only three are women.

They are Tsholofelo Molefe, group CFO; Yolanda Cuba, vice president for the south-east Africa region, covering South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, DRC and Lesotho; and Lele Modise, the group’s chief legal counsel. Among the men are the CEO, CTIO and the head of HR.

MainOne has a woman as CEO, Funke Opeke, and another, Tinuola Ipadeola, is head of corporate services and development. Plus five men, including the CFO and CTO.


One or two out of 10

On the group executive committee of 10 at Vodacom, part of the Vodafone group, there are just two women. Raisibe Kgomaraga Marathi is CFO and Mariam Cassim is head of financial and digital services. The group CEO, the CTO and the head of HR are men.

Its Kenyan partner, Safaricom, is worse: it has a senior management team of 10, of whom there is only one woman, chief customer officer Sylvia Mulinge. She is surrounded by male CEO, CFO, CTIO and head of HR.

Rostelecom lists 28 senior executives on its website, from the president, a number of first vice presidents and on to just unnumbered vice presidents. Of these, just seven – one quarter of the total – are women.

The highest placed are Galina Rysakova, senior VP of organisational development and HR, and Anna Shumeyko, senior VP and chief of staff of the presidential executive office.

They are joined by corporate secretary Ekaterina Mironova, lawyer Irina Sirenko and several VPs: Natalia Kryuchkova, heading carrier business and sales; Diana Samoshkina, heading digital B2C business; Inna Pokhodnya, in charge of marketing; and Kira Kiryukhina, running external communications.


One woman, two jobs

Rather surprisingly, BT doesn’t have a list of top executives on its website, “although we are in the process of refreshing the website and it will be available on the new version”, says an official. He points us to a couple of pages in the last annual report, though that is out of date, he notes.

One has left and “Sabine Chalmers has become general counsel and group regulatory affairs director”. That means the previous executive in charge of regulatory affairs has left and Chalmers has taken on her job in addition to being general counsel.

Apart from that one woman with two jobs, Harmeen Mehta is chief digital and innovation officer, Alison Wilcox is HR director and Rachel Canham is company secretary and general counsel for governance. Plus nine men, including the CEO, CFO and CTO, and the CEO of Openreach, who is an “invitee”.

Openreach, the UK’s wholesale last-mile fibre and copper company, is owned by BT, and it does better. There is an executive team of 13, of whom four are women, including two in what are non-traditional roles.

Kim Mears heads strategic infrastructure development and Katie Milligan runs customer, commercial and propositions. Catherine Colloms is director of corporate affairs and Sophie Bouckaert is general counsel and company secretary.

Deutsche Telekom is better than most, with three women out of a leadership team of eight, including Dominique Leroy, board member for Europe, and Claudia Nemat, board member for technology and innovation. The other is Birgit Bohle, head of HR and legal affairs.

The five men include the CEO, the CFO and the head of Telekom Deutschland, its German operations.


Four women, 10 men

Orange’s general management committee has four women and 10 men. Fabienne Dulac heads Orange France. Her counterpart, who heads European operations outside France, is Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière: she is a former group CTO and CMO, doing the two jobs at the same time.

Béatrice Mandine is head of communications and brand and Elizabeth Tchoungui is in charge of corporate social responsibility, diversity and philanthropy.

Telia Company’s CEO Allison Kirkby heads a management team of 13, of whom three are women. Heli Partanen is head of Telia Finland, Rachel Samrén is head of external affairs, and Cecilia Lundin is head of people, experience and culture. However, Lundin announced in June that she will leave later in the year.

Telia Carrier, newly independent from Telia Company, has a leadership team of eight men, two women: CMO Maja Sever and Jenny Aucott, manager of global administration.

Telenor has a group executive management unit that is an advisory body to the male CEO. It consists of three men who are heads of operations in three main markets – the Nordics, Asia and the home market of Norway – plus three senior women: CFO Tone Hegland Bachke, CTO Ruza Sabanovic and Cecilie Blydt Heuch, who is chief people and sustainability officer.


All men in TIM

It used to be said that some companies have more men called Tim than women with any name. At TIM, the former Telecom Italia, there are 14 senior managers; but the website admits it is out of date, as it includes Elisabetta Romano, who left her role heading innovation and partnership in August 2020 to become CEO of Sparkle. The other 13 are all men.

At Sparkle itself, the international services arm of TIM, the team led by CEO Romano includes just one other woman, Alessandra Leonardi, head of HR.

Telefónica has a wonderful diagram of its senior leadership, showing the CEO and his immediate 15 staff. Of the top six who report to the CEO, there are three women – chief of staff María García-Legaz, CFO Laura Abasolo and chief people officer Marta Machicot. The other nine, including the CTIO and the CEOs of Spain, Germany and Brazil, are all men.

Türk Telekom has 12 people in its senior management: 11 men and one woman. She is Barış Karakullukçu, who is chief strategy and digital officer. CEO, finance, technology, HR: all men.

Vodafone has a 14-member executive committee, led by a man, with just four women. The most senior is group CFO Margherita Della Valle, and she is joined by Serpil Timuray, who leads the Europe cluster: Albania, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Turkey. Rosemary Martin is general counsel and Leanne Wood heads HR.

BICS, owned by Proximus, lists a male CEO and seven other men, plus Kathelijne Winderickx, whose role is HR and legal affairs.

iBasis lists 10 people in its senior leadership team, of whom eight are men, including the CEO, the CFO, the head of technology and the COO. The two women are Céline Grégoire, head of marketing, and Ellen Schmidt, head of legal.

Colt – where we started – is an example to all who believe it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a leadership team of nine, and five of them are women, including the CEO, Keri Gilder, the head of sales and marketing, Paula Cogan, and the head of strategy and transformation, Jaya Deshmukh. Tessa Raum heads HR and Caroline Griffin Pain is general counsel.

This is not a comprehensive list. And if you are already depressed by the lack of progress, just take out the HR and legal roles. Where are the women in this industry? And why? 



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