I came across an interesting finding the other day. Companies that have more women in leadership roles are performing in the top 20% financially according to the DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast. These companies are realizing higher financial returns than companies with less female representation at the top.
To further back this up, the Credit Suisse Gender 3000 report notes that “companies with more than one woman on the board have returned a compound 3.7% a year over those that have none since 2005.” Companies with women in top positions are consistently bringing in higher returns on equity, higher valuations and increased payout rates. These findings confirm my strongly held beliefs around diversity.
Diversity, whether it be based on gender, ethnicity, different background or stage of life, is very important to me. I’ve had the opportunity to live in many places around the world and observe how different companies and communities reap the benefits of diversity. In my experience, diversity of thought and perspective brings strength. We are all better off for it and it is something that I welcome and pursue on my team.
As a leader at Schneider Electric, I see how women bring immense value and perspective that results in better decisions every day. I have been closely following the conversation inside Schneider Electric around the HeForShe program, which tackles gender equality globally. Not only do we support this initiative externally, but also we are working even harder internally to continue bolstering a culture of diversity and inclusion. Our efforts include fostering more female leaders across the organization, both in support and business functions. Moreover, three women currently serve on our Board of Directors.
The issue of moving beyond any type of gender discrimination and other barriers hits home for me, as I have two nieces about to enter the workforce. They earned degrees in science and business and are rightly anticipating a life career experience that doesn’t take gender into account when it comes to equal pay and access to leadership ranks.
I recently offered my nieces advice as they get ready to launch their careers. I told them that they will have to work hard to compete and earn their place in a global market, but they should also expect equal opportunity at every turn. Achieving their goals is completely within their power. As they move along their career paths one hope I have is to hear them say “What gender bias? We don’t know what you are talking about.”
Another critical factor in moving beyond gender discrimination is support from men. Males in the workforce are vital partners in building a culture that opens up career opportunities for women. But it’s important to understand that creating more opportunity for females doesn’t result in less opportunity for men. By encouraging and advancing any employee—male or female—who exhibits talent and skills, a company will retain top performers and create more opportunities for those rising through the ranks.
Join the conversation. What steps is your company taking to expand female leadership in top ranks? What are some of the challenges?