Gender diversity, particularly in leadership, has become a priority internationally. A wide selection of reports on women in leadership reinforce the significant benefits in having women in leadership roles.
Diversity of thought
In contrast to leadership teams that are comprised predominantly, if not entirely, of men from very similar demographic and professional backgrounds, groups that are more mixed will consider a wider range of issues, from a variety of perspectives, and generate more innovative solutions.
Better governance and organisational performance
Research shows that when women and men work together on boards, much better governance and economic performance results. This is often referred to as the business case for gender diversity.
Leveraging human capital
Women have higher participation and completion rates in tertiary education compared to men, and they are increasingly out-numbering men in education achievement. To get the very best leaders we need to be selecting candidates from the widest possible talent pool.
The lack of women in leadership roles represents a failure to exploit the available talent pool.
Research shows that the interests of women, children and families are more likely to be taken into account by women. Diversity promotes a better understanding of a diverse market place. International data suggests that women are responsible for 80 percent of household purchasing decisions, and the figure for New Zealand is likely to be similar.
The business case for gender diversity
The evidence-based business case for gender diversity is well documented and widely accepted internationally. There is a concerted global effort to increase the numbers of women in leadership and this is happening in New Zealand too.
Many large international studies report that companies with a higher proportion of women on their boards perform significantly better than their competitors in economic terms. Moreover, several studies have reported that companies with a higher proportion of women on their boards performed better than their competitors during the recent financial crisis.
A New Zealand study by Goldman Sachs Closing The Gender Gap: Plenty Of Potential Economic Upside estimated that closing the gap between male and female employment rates would boost New Zealand's GDP by 10 percent. The report identified the lack of women in leadership, and on boards in particular, as an area requiring urgent attention.