Women Boost Profits — If Businesses Let Them

Studies show that increasing gender diversity can boost bottom lines, but workplaces must adapt lest women leave before they reach the top.

Good news, ladies: Studies continue to support the business benefits of gender diversity.

“Men and women have different viewpoints, ideas, and market insights, which enables better problem solving, ultimately leading to superior performance at the business unit level,” recent Gallup research states.

Gender diversity at work also results in better access to resources, more sources of information, wider industry knowledge, a more diverse customer base, and a better ability to attract and retain talented women.

“This is especially relevant as more women join the labor force around the world,” Gallup stated of the last factor. “Companies cannot afford to ignore 50 percent of the potential workforce and expect to be competitive in the global economy.”

A separate study by McKinsey & Company found that gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to financially outperform their industry’s national mean.

Here’s the bad news: Getting and keeping women in top positions is easier said than done.

“While companies are trying to increase the number of women in executive positions, many are struggling because of a failure to adapt workplace conditions in a way that ensures qualified women do not drop off the corporate ladder,” as The Associated Press reported this morning.

The McKinsey study found that on average, women account for 16 percent of executive team members in the U.S. The equivalent is 12 percent in the United Kingdom and 6 percent in Brazil.

A woman’s role as a mother is part of the problem, The Associated Press reports:

The average workplace remains locked in a post-war factory mentality with structured hours and a requirement to be at the office — and the expectation to keep working from home even when not physically present, researchers say. The use of the Internet has helped working remotely, but for top managerial jobs that might lead to the boardroom, physical presence in the office and attending work-related social events remain crucial. Add in broader social factors, such as expectations that moms do domestic duty, and the pressures can become too much.

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Stacy Johnson

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