8 reasons more women should be in senior positions

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Published by
Jan Hills
August 28, 2018

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As we wrote a few weeks ago in the article ‘Getting men to support your career‘ the attitude of some senior men towards women makes it hard to believe that we’re living in 2018. Some (too many) leaders of organisations reveal archaic, and shocking, attitudes to women in senior positions. It seems impossible that men can still describe women as unable to cope with ‘extremely complex’ issues and simply ‘don’t want the hassle’ or are ‘uncomfortable in a board environment’. Maybe even more concerning, given these views came from CEO’s and Chairmen of boards is that they are meant to be safeguarding the organisation’s future and reputation yet the data on the success of organisations with diverse leadership is ignored or brushed aside.

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Here, are the reasons, backed by research a, that I believe all broad chairmen and CEO’s should be basing their decisions on when looking at the make-up of their board and senior team.

  1. Women are more likely to be effective leaders

Women tend to lead by using traits which engage, create collaboration and pay attention to both results and relationships. Traits which have been shown to improve business results. For more data on this see my article “Women leaders, lies, lies and damn lies” Women also get better at leading as they mature, men tend to find an approach and stick with it, causing them to plateau.

  1. Gender diversity improves organisational performance

There are numerous reports on the benefits of diversity to organisational performance. Here are some of the recent findings:

A 2016 study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY analysed results from 21,980 publicly traded companies in 91 countries and found that having women in at least 30% of leadership positions adds 6% to net profit margin.

According to McKinsey, companies across all sectors with the most women on their boards of directors consistently outperform those with no female board members – by 41% in terms of return on equity, and by 56% in terms of operating results.

A report by MSCI, which researched 4,000 public companies, found those with strong female leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without. The report also shows that companies with below average gender diversity suffered 24% more ‘governance-related issues’.

  1. Gender diverse boards attract investment

Investors, who are increasingly conscious of social pressure, and their returns, are putting pressure on organisations. Helena Morrissey, Head of Personal Investing at LGIM and founder of the 30% Club, has just launched a £50m fund specifically for investors wishing to put their money into companies with gender-diverse boards.

  1. Women make the buying decisions

What better way to understand your customers than employing them in decision-making roles? Studies have shown that women are the prime decision makers when it comes to purchases large and small.

  1. Women can fuel growth in the world economy

Gender equality has the potential to make the single biggest difference to the world economy. If women around the world achieved economic equality with men, it would contribute $28 trillion to the global economy, roughly the size of the economies of the United States and China combined. Gender diversity has the potential to be the ultimate economic accelerator.

  1. Women are opinion formers

Women dominate on social media. In the US at least, every major social media network – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter – has a higher proportion of women than men using it. This is also true for the UK and other major economies. If organisations want to promote their Brand they need to understand the female perspective and appeal to the female influencers.

  1. Women directors improve decision-making for the better

In research we conducted for our book ‘Brain-savvy Wo+man‘ women bring different and useful, perspectives and experiences to decision-making in senior positions. This is backed up by research published in the Harvard Business Review. Female directors ask more questions and are less willing to make decisions they don’t fully understand. They tend to seek a range of opinions before making decisions. And they bring different perspectives to issues.

  1. Women make up 51% of the UK population

So there really is no excuse for this not being reflected at senior levels in organisations (or in politics, media, science, and a whole host of other sectors). It’s just the right thing to do.

Until there is public shame for organisations who do not have senior women and public status in having them not much will change. Waiting for the next generation to mature is risky. We need pressure now that impacts the social standing of organisations.

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