Two documents worth popping into the Chairman and CEO's in-trays: Room at the top: women and success in UK business and also Women Matter: gender diversity, a corporate performance driver.
As they have the clout of being produced by McKinsey & Company, there is the strong possibility that the impact will go beyond a superficial read. The nub of the argument is that studies demonstrate a correlation between greater gender diversity and better economic performance.The first found that companies with three or more women in senior management positions performed significantly better across nine organisational criteria than companies with fewer women at the top. And companies that scored higher on these organisational criteria also performed better financially,with operating margins twice as high as those of lower-ranked businesses.
This finding was reinforced by a second study,which looked at economic performance for European companies with a market capitalisation of over €150 million and found that those companies with an influential female presence on the executive committee outperformed their peers in terms of return on equity,operating margin and stock price growth.
Key recommendations are familiar to those agitating for change:
1. Put the right support in place. Companies need to recognise the value of coaching, mentoring, networking and training in retaining and expanding the female talent pool.
2. Facilitate a better work-life balance, through flexible working hours and career flexibility.
3. Adapt people management processes. Recruitment, appraisal and career management systems should facilitate the progression of high performing women and help companies to keep
their talent pipeline healthy.
4. Create transparency by introducing and monitoring gender diversity KPIs. These will define and direct priorities for action, and enable companies to measure progress.
5. Lead from the top. The leadership of the CEO and Chairperson is vital.
None of this is rocket science, but it's good to see some rigorous quantifying of the business case.