Women leaders in the workplace – 5 things you should know

As Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva aims to break another glass ceiling in her bid to become the next United Nations’ secretary general, we look at why gender balance is a core issue for businesses.

Commissioner Georgieva has already made this a core issue during her term. She has a successful track record in progressing equal pay in the workforce and shown the importance of nurturing the workforce. On Tuesday 18 October, we will welcome Elisabeth Werner, the Commissioners Head of Cabinet to talk about this – click here.

Here are five thoughts on why women leaders are important*:

Diversity of thought- In contrast to leadership teams that are comprised predominantly, if not entirely, of men from very similar demographic and professional backgrounds, groups that are more mixed will consider a wider range of issues, from a variety of perspectives, and generate more innovative solutions.

Better governance and organisational performance – Research shows that when women and men work together on boards, much better governance and economic performance results.  This is often referred to as the business case for gender diversity.

Leveraging human capital – Women have higher participation and completion rates in tertiary education compared to men, and they are increasingly out-numbering men in educational achievement. To get the very best leaders we need to be selecting candidates from the widest possible talent pool.

The lack of women in leadership roles represents a failure to exploit the available talent pool.

Representation – Research shows that the interests of women, children and families are more likely to be taken into account by women.  Diversity promotes a better understanding of a diverse market place.  International data suggests that women are responsible for 80 percent of household purchasing decisions.

The business case for gender diversity – The evidence-based business case for gender diversity is well documented and widely accepted internationally.  There is a concerted global effort to increase the numbers of women in leadership.

Many large international studies report that companies with a higher proportion of women on their boards perform significantly better than their competitors in economic terms.  Moreover, several studies have reported that companies with a higher proportion of women on their boards performed better than their competitors during the recent financial crisis.

*Government of New Zealand – http://women.govt.nz/leadership/why-women-leadership

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