Only 12 Fortune 500 companies are headed by women. Is that enough? Hardly. Recent research from the Harvard Business Review proved once more that any organisation without female leadership is missing out: on 42 per cent higher sales returns, a 66 per cent higher return on invested capital, and a 53 per cent higher return on equity.
Specifically, at all levels, women are rated higher in fully 12 of the 16 competencies that go into outstanding leadership. And two of the traits where women outscored men to the highest degree, were taking initiative and driving for results – two traits which have long been thought of as particularly male strengths.
When global management consulting firm McKinsey asked business executives around the world what they believe were the most important leadership attributes today, the top four results were intellectual stimulation, inspiration, participatory decision-making and setting expectations/rewards — all attributes more commonly found in women leaders.
Having a woman on board also boosts a business with superior communication skills (no, not because women talk more, gentlemen – rather, because they know how to listen) and effective emotional intelligence. Examples? Take Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, a posterchild of female leadership, who led the declining internet giant’s stock to gain 5.7 per cent. Or, every single woman nominated for the First Women Awards.
However, the issue of the glass ceiling has been with us for some time now, and the progress is relatively small. At the same time, there is increasing evidence women are more suited to the style of leadership needed in organisations today. Companies that explicitly promote gender diversity perform better in general, and much better on the multiple dimensions of corporate sustainability.
The sooner we break through the glass ceiling completely, the better – for this purpose, it can’t hurt to learn more about the skills and perspectives that women bring to business. Summing up the findings of the Harvard Business Review, Online MBA has made a video to do just that – and allowed us to share it with you:
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