International Women’s Day 2014
International Women’s Day 2014: Integrating Women in Business
Gender balance is an issue that generates emotions. It is connected to values, world views, frustrations and lack of understanding. This time I will address it from a business, economic and cognitive angle. The emotional, stereotypical, “feminine” conversation may not always serve the purpose of a discussion even if it is an essential part of it.
by: Noga Segev Nadir
I’ll start from the end. Those who seek conclusive scientific evidence will not find it here. Correlations – yes. Causation – no. You can’t find two identical organizations operating in the exact same circumstances, with the only difference between them being the number of women in senior management positions. However, we can see links between business performance and the women in senior management positions that are far from random.
Many studies point to a connection between the percentage of women holding board seats in companies and the business performance of these companies. The comparison pertained to various business parameters: return on sales, share performance, debt, growth data and more.
The Catalyst Index, which measures the presence of women in senior positions in publically-traded companies, shows (in their 2011 report) that Fortune 500 organizations with three or more women on the board, present 84% more return on sales compared to organizations with no women on the board.
Another report published in 2012 compared various business dimensions among organizations that have (green line in the graph) or don’t have (blue line in the graph) at least one woman on the board.
The following graph presents profitability data in relation to shareholders’ investment. Even without going into details we can see that organizations with at least one woman on the board present better results.
The same figures emerge when dealing with management teams and not with board members. For example, the McKinsey report “Women Matter” presents significant differences in the business performance of organizations whose management teams are more gender-diverse than average.
Now that you are convinced or at least have doubt, you’re probably asking yourselves about the situation in your organization, in your department.
It’s my guess that none of the readers deliberately excludes women from management positions. And perhaps it would have been easier to handle things and change them if someone had consciously excluded women. But let’s be realistic, even without intentions, the representation of women in management positions in organizations differs from their representation in the population. It’s clear to me that since it involves a whole array of factors and some unawareness, no magic formula has been found. Change will come from numerous actions that will intertwine and work together consistently and over time.
Change will come from the understanding and openness of organizations and people (women and men) to change.
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