One need look no further than the numerous reports and comments made by influential professionals—both male and female—for evidence that gender diversity, as well as adding and escalating women in corporate roles, are key drivers of business growth.
In tackling the much debated topic of the need for more women to occupy the higher ranks of workplace culture, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White, herself a former director of a public company, said during a mid-September speech before the SAIS Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom that while women have made strides in climbing the corporate ladder, “greater boardroom diversity has not, in my view, received sufficient attention, nor has the importance of addressing the under-representation been accorded the urgency that I think it deserves.”
A woman with many high-level achievements to her name, White went on to note recent surveys showing, for instance, that in 2012 and 2013, women occupied just over 16% of the board room seats of Fortune 500 companies, and that percentage is nearly the same as it was in 2011. Another study showed that in 2013, more than 90% of the S&P 500 companies had at least one female director. Ten percent of U.S. companies still do not have any women on their boards, she said.
While there’s been progress, White said, “the remaining chapters to write are especially apparent in the American boardroom and C-suite where the progress of gender diversity has been frustratingly slow.” She cited a study by Stanford that showed the average U.S. Fortune 250 company did not elect its first female directors until the mid-1980s.
White’s comments about women’s skill-sets ring true for any profession.
Said White: “Women are receiving more than half of all bachelors’, masters’ and doctorate degrees, and more than a third of MBAs. Women are approximately half of the total work force and half of all managers. We are here, and we are qualified.”
Indeed, Joe Keefe, president and CEO of Pax World Funds, who’s been very outspoken about advancing women in the workplace, has been quoted as saying that “having more women members on corporate boards improves decision-making and governance, and boosts the bottom line.”
Said Keefe: “Where women do better, companies do better. Countries with better gender equality have more economic growth, and it’s the same with companies. Gender needs to be looked at as an investment factor.”
More and more research shows that increasing the number of female employees you have will boost your firm’s bottom line.
Kathleen McQuiggan, senior vice president of Pax World Management, cited comments made by Keefe during her keynote address in late April at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ release of its Women Initiative (WIN) white paper release event in New York City.
McQuiggan recited these comments made by Keefe: “When women are at the table, good things happen. The conversation is richer, the decision-making process is better, teams are more innovative and collaborative, and the whole organization is stronger.”