Women In Leadership

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP.  This event was about the numbers.  The Twin Cities Business event reveled the 10th annual Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership…and the news was disheartening.  The Executive Summary states, “With few notable exceptions (the Census) underscores the challenges of maintaining forward movement in diversifying corporate leadership.”

First, for a look at the big picture, the report stated:

  • Across the country, 28 million women hold managerial or professional roles (ION, 2017) but only 24 women lead Fortune 500 companies, and only 22 percent of the nation’s largest 100 public companies have female directors.

Below are a few of the highlights from the Census which analyzed data from 72 Minnesota companies:

  • The Census reveals a challenging corporate landscape, with a net decrease in the number of women holding leadership roles.
  • Of the 37 new directors appointed, only six were women.
  • Women directors of color hold only 3.1 percent of the total board seats.
  • MN companies strive to attain a critical mass of women executive officers and directors.  In 2017, six MN companies attained this critical mass of 30% or more on both their boards and in their executive offices, to receive the designation of Special Distinction.
  • The Census pointed out some of the reasons, including that there are fewer companies in Minnesota so therefore, fewer leadership opportunities.

The moderated discussion included insights from four key panelists including Kweilin Ellingrud, McKinsey & Company; Andrew Humphrey, Fagre Baker Daniels; Cindy Kent, 3M; and Beth Wozniak, Pentair.  The highlights for me included:

  • Women that have responsibility for p&l, more often move into top leadership roles.
  • Women leaders often draw from their experience as competitive athletes.
  • There is a difference between mentored and sponsored.  Cindy Kent shared that many seek mentors but are under sponsored.
  • Be intentional – take on learn & grow initiatives but make your intentions known.
  • Create your own personal advisory board.
  • Choose your boss well.
  • In response to questions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, Beth Wozniak stated, “You get what you tolerate.”  She went on to talk about high performance workplaces.

More on this topic can be found on the St. Catherine University website.

More photos of the event can be found in the gallery.



  • Shelly Elmore, Publisher, Twin Cities Business


  • ReBecca Koenig Roloff, President, St. Catherine University

2017 MN Census of Women in Corporate Leadership Highlights

  • Joann Bangs, Associate Provost, College for Women and Dean, School of Business & Professional Studies, St. Catherine University

2017 Honor Roll Companies

  • Allete, Inc.
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Apogee Enterprises, Inc.
  • Best Buy Co., Inc.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc.
  • Deluxe Corp.
  • Electromed, Inc.
  • General Mills, Inc.
  • Homel Foods Corp.
  • Insignia Systems, Inc.
  • Medtronic Plc
  • New Ulm Telecom Inc.
  • Patterson Cos., Inc.
  • Sleep Number Corp.
  • SuperValu, Inc.
  • Target Corp.
  • Tennant Co.
  • U.S. Bancorp
  • UnitedHealth Group

Panel Discussion

  • Kweilin Ellingrun, Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Andrew Humphrey, Partner, Chair Emeritus, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
  • Cindy Kent, President & GM, 3M Infection Prevention Division
  • Beth Wozniak, SVP & President, Electrical, Pentair (now CEO of nVent)

Closing Remarks