By: Patricia Lenkov
1. Your stakeholders, including employees, investors and customers include women. How better to understand these constituencies than by representing them at the top of the organization?
2. Having women in the boardroom sends the message that the company is accessible, inclusive and open to innovation. This is very positive in the marketplace and motivating for employees.
3. Women represent half the population.
4. According to Forbes magazine, women represent the largest market opportunity in the works and control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. If your company wants to be included in women's purchasing behavior then best to understand it.
5. According to the 2013 Women, Money and Power study by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, 57 percent of all women say they have more earning power than ever before. Sixty percent say they are the primary breadwinner in their households. Furthermore and interestingly, two-thirds say that, in general, they cannot rely on a spouse to handle investing.
6. The driving force behind the social web is women. Scores of studies have shown that women are the majority of users of social networking sites and spend 30 percent more time on these sites. According to Nielsen, mobile social network usage is 55 percent female. So, to best comprehend and master this pervasive and growing phenomenon ask a woman.
7. According to the American Psychological Association, a woman's leadership style is more like mentoring and coaching, while a man's style is centered around command and control. Each of these styles has their advantages and may be appropriate at certain times and not at others. The most astute companies will seek to benefit from a variety of approaches.
8. Women tend to be more inclusive and collaborative than men and they ask different types of questions than men. Ram Charan, in his best-selling book "Boards that Deliver" concludes that progressive boards have lively debates and challenge each other directly without breaking the harmony of the group.
9. Women tend to be more comfortable with ambiguity than men, are more holistic in their thinking and tend to be more process oriented than men. Per a 2010 Harvard Business Review blog by Scott Anthony: "It's pretty clear that tomorrow's leaders are going to face the "new normal" of constant change. It is no longer enough to be an operator that can master today's complexity. You have to be prepared to deal with tomorrow's complexity, "black swan" events, sudden shifts in the basis of competition in your industry, competitors springing up around the globe, and more." Never has the ability to deal with uncertainty been more important.
10. Numerous studies have shown that companies that smash the "glass ceiling" increase their profits as a result. Credit Suisse published a study on this topic. In it, they looked at the performance of 3,000 companies and found that those with at least one women on their board outperformed those with no women by an average of 5 percent. Catalyst, the non-profit focused on women and business published (in 2007) what has become the quintessential study on this topic. They looked at Fortune 500 companies and discovered that companies with the highest percentage of women board directors outperformed by 53 percent on return on equity, 42 percent return on sales and 66 percent return on invested capital.
What are we waiting for?