There is much research confirming the business case for having women in more senior levels within an organisation (better balance = better performance). Some of the benefits that have been presented are that gender diverse workforces are more effective and gender equality in the workplace reduces costs to the employer; gender diverse businesses have been found to be more highly engaged and financial performance improves dramatically; gender diverse workforces allow the company to serve an increasingly diverse customer base; and, lastly, the different ideas and insights between men and women enable better problem solving. It has been found that the costs associated with promoting gender equality are more than outweighed by the potential benefits to be gained in terms of the bottom line.
An interesting comment was made by one of the presenters at a gender mainstreaming conference at which we presented last week. While the validity of the research was acknowledged, the point made was that, in addition, women bring a softness due to their different genetic makeup, which the majority of men may not bring. This in itself results in less explicit benefits which positively impact the business at an individual, team and organisational level.
To remain sustainable in the long-term and competitive in the global economy, companies cannot afford to ignore 50%+ of the potential workforce. And, building on from this, the value of having a gender diverse organisation is that the visible gender balance helps to retain talented women and serves to attract even more women.
Sources: Catalyst, Close the Gap UK, Gallup, Grant Thornton, International Journal of Resource Management, INSEAD, London School of Economics, McKinsey, World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development.