By James T. Madore
More than three in 10 local chief executives said it’s still more difficult for women to succeed in business than for men, according to a poll released Wednesday.
Thirty-five percent of CEOs participating in the first Long Island Business Leaders Survey agreed with the statement, “things have changed but in so many circumstances it remains a man’s world.” Fifty-eight percent endorsed the statement that “the old days are over, women have as much opportunity today as men do.”
Of the 248 top executives polled by the Siena College Research Institute, 29 are women.
The survey of CEOs of companies with sales between $2.5 million and $200 million per year was conducted from October through December 2015. The Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, paid for the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.2 percentage points.
The executives — by more than 65 percent — said the biggest problems facing businesswomen are the lack of high-quality, affordable child care and balancing work and family obligations.
“I had to struggle with [child care] myself as I was working,” said Judy Ogden, who participated in the poll as owner of Ogden’s Design & Plantings Inc., a St. James-based landscape design and installation company.
She said she and her son benefitted from an after school program that cared for him until she could leave work: “It’s really important the schools have provided that service and that they can continue to do so.”
Ogden also said she has found stay-at-home mothers “to be a fantastic resource” as employees, and has created work schedules in the office to accommodate their hours. Ogden’s Plantings, which was founded 25 years ago, has a work force of about 20 people.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Ogden said she has had to overcome some skepticism from customers and employees. She endeavors to show her knowledge, creativity and work ethic. “You have to be excellent at what you do,” she said in an interview.
Many of the male CEOs who took the survey said they didn’t see big differences in how women and men are treated in the workplace.
“I don’t see that as a problem … but I do appreciate that some women may feel differently,” said Dinesh Gulati, chief executive of IIT Inc., a Melville-based staffing firm in information technology. He said women make better recruiters in his industry.
In the business leaders’ survey, 31 percent identified equal treatment, pay equity and career advancement as problems for female workers. Sexual harassment and age discrimination were seen as problems by 29 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
Siena pollster Don Levy said Wednesday the number of female CEOs surveyed was too small to be statistically significant “but their views are different” from those of their male counterparts.
“Younger women in particular sense sexual harassment and age discrimination to a greater degree than men,” Levy said.
The LIA established the Long Island Women’s Collaborative about 18 months ago to address many of these issues, according to Kevin Law, the group’s president. He said increased funding for child care is one of the LIA’s top legislative priorities.
Law said, “Daycare isn’t a women’s issue, it’s an economic development issue.”