Women Mean Business

Women Mean Business

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There can be no doubt that women operate on a different wavelength to men, and there are shelves of books bearing testimony to these differences. While gender stereotypes are often abused to shut women out of boardrooms, they can also be used as an argument to justify why women should be brought in.

For example, women have better communication and consulting skills, are more caring and loyal towards their organisation and peers and, compared to men, are less competitive, confrontational and aggressive, and less driven by money.

But before women get all premenstrual about these assumptions, some stereotypes hold water better than others. Fortunately women are far more dynamic and capable than previously believed, functioning as effectively on exco boards as they do in the kitchen. These days, there’s plenty of scientific evidence that more women equal more success. Here’s why:

1. Return on equity

On average, companies with the highest percentage of women board directors outperform those with the least by more than 50%. This is because inclusive and representative boards are more diverse, tapping in to the rich pool of talent, voices, experience, and approaches in decision-making. A diverse board is also a step closer to representing its stakeholders.

2. Bringing home the bacon

Think about it, economic growth is being driven by the world’s women, who will collectively earn $18 trillion by 2014. As a dominant force in the rising middle class of developing countries, and controlling 80% of retail purchases, they want to be represented.

3. Mom’s watching

Boards with a greater presence of women act with greater integrity, are more vigilant about the connection between management’s remuneration packages and performance, and require better documentation of roles and responsibilities.

4. Sisters are doing it for themselves

Studies have shown that women directors have higher levels of formal qualifications than their male counterparts, are younger, and sit on more committees, including the key audit and remuneration committees.

5. Because it’s the right thing to do

Despite equal rights, equal opportunities, and attempts to bridge gender gaps in business, the percentage of women sitting in corporate boardrooms has not increased from 15% since 2002.

Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.