The business case for gender diversity in leadership is compelling. I’ve updated it to include (more) recent studies linking diversity and financial performance.
I periodically update the research that forms the business case for gender balance at the leadership level. Here is my latest update. I review studies showing the business benefit of diversity and inclusion generally. Gender diversity brings all these benefits and more.
One pillar of the business case for gender diversity in business leadership is its correlation with better financial results. Studies by Catalyst and McKinsey show strong correlations between gender diversity in senior leadership and on boards — and improved financial metrics. There are contrary studies related to board composition – showing no correlation or negative correlation. I hope researchers will help us sort through the differences. Meanwhile, I’ll say, ““Solid research by highly respected organizations, disputed by some, shows a correlation between gender diversity and results.”
I am out to expose and eradicate anything that gets in the way of women being able to reach their potential. One thing that gets in the way is “mind-sets” — often unconscious ways we think as a result of our early-life experiences. Images from the 1950’s capture ways people discounted the value of women. That thinking that may still influence the experiences of women – and give rise to obstacles like the double bind and gendered definitions of leadership.
One of several unconscious mind-sets that create obstacles to gender diversity is the “comfort principle.” People naturally are more comfortable with people like themselves. Access to networks and mentorship are keys to reaching the leadership ranks. If the comfort principle affects who gets great assignments and mentors, this can perpetuate the demographics of leadership. Conscious awareness of this obstacle is its cure. We can stop and be sure the comfort principle is not blocking people from access.