Despite the difficulties in trying to correlate gender equality with performance, research is becoming quite clear in showing that diversity in leadership is resoundingly more effective than homogeneity.
The Gender Forward Pioneer Index reviewed gender among the Global Fortune 500 and the World’s Most Admired Companies list. Unsurprisingly, it was found that only 11 per cent of senior leaders were female and not one company had an equal representation.
Staggeringly, 38 per cent of companies still had all-male senior leadership teams. In contrast, those companies featured on the Most Admired Companies list averaged 17 per cent female leadership compared to 8 per cent at other surveyed companies.
Being admired in the public eye is evermore important. Opinions, ratings, and word of mouth are now instant; being popular is being visible, which, for one, attracts talent.
Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist, Leslie Gaines-Ross, speaking with Forbes magazine, said as much: “Job seekers want to see faces that look like theirs in management. Younger workers will want to work in a diverse environment and expect it.”
Perhaps more importantly when women are included in leadership roles, bottom line is affected positively.
A 2017 McKinsey study discovered that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity financially outperform those that are not.
This data goes along with the findings of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Their researchers discovered that increasing female leadership from 0 to 30 per cent had a positive impact of a 1 per cent increase in net margin and a 15 per cent increase in profitability.
It’s time to be brave, not just about gender equality, but embracing the modern, more scrutinised and freer world in which we live. It’s time to use talent to our advantage and stop with this outdated idea that only men can control. It's ridiculous, shameful and a long way away from what some of these people believe masculinity is.
The Greek essayist Plutarch once recorded a famous quote of which we can all take heed. He was speaking about an occasion when the Spartan queen Gorgo was asked by a woman from Attica, "Why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?", to which she replied: "Because we are also the only ones who give birth to men."
Her politics, judgement, wisdom and wit were famous and she is notable for being the daughter of a king of Sparta, the wife of another and the mother of a third.
She wasn’t kicking an empty can in the fight for equality, she conceded the bravery of men as equal to that of her own and she did just as much for the cause of the men as she did for the women.
That is what we should be striving for - it’s the end goal. We all need to be more valiant.
As business people we need to be pushing the boundaries that need to be pushed to impact our profits and general running of the business on a day to day basis. It is not a notion that women need a leg up from a big strong man to help them get on the board. If anything, it’s the opposite. Gender diversity is about helping men just as much as it is about helping women. It’s about making the most of all the wonderful talent we have available, celebrate the richness that diversity brings us and embrace the change.