Worldwide, women provide 66% of all labour. Women own 40% of all private companies. Across all Fortune 500 companies in only 3% of the cases a woman occupies the position of CEO. This percentage does not do justice to the reality in the division of labour. A missed opportunity for women, but also for men ...
Since the 80s regularly there have been discussions about the ‘Glass Ceiling’, a term imported from the United States, and referring to the efforts of male leaders to prevent women from reaching the top. A term that sparks debate: are women insufficiently able to integrate into a 'male culture', or do they not have a chance to begin with?
The boardroom is where it happens: opportunities are discussed, risks are assessed and ultimately decisions are taken. This requires a mix of knowledge and skills of the board members. Precisely because often much depends on this, it is crucial that the best people take up position, regardless of gender. Statistically, it is illogical that female leaders are underrepresented in the average management board. By now women have proven themselves in all possible positions, but you still do not see the result of that at the top.
The lack of a healthy balance also has economic disadvantages: research has shown that the return on sales at companies with women in the top is 42% higher. When looking to the return on invested capital, the effect is even stronger: +66%! These numbers do not lie ...
Doing business in the 21st century means to be able to anticipate on a much better informed consumer, to use technological developments and to prepare for the ever faster changing environment and society. This requires not only strategic insight and informed decisions, but also requires skills in which women excel, such as having empathy, creating self-awareness and ensuring cooperation. A healthy balance between men and women in each management board is therefore crucial.
To balance the ratios in a change of mindset is needed. To ensure that women actually have equal opportunities, we will have to change the rules. We will have to work on our mutual expectations with regards to roles, hierarchies and career paths. For example, now women regularly refuse top positions, ‘because they do not like the world they are being asked to lean into’. That says something about the management style and the corporate culture. But then again, many men complain about that too. For example, by introducing flexible ways to work, both men and women can be better facilitated. (Top) management is more than working hard and long hours. By the pursuit of diversity in both working methods and composition of the management board, more sustainable growth will arise. This will lead to a healthy performance in human ánd financial terms.
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