With COVID-19 impacting businesses across the globe, it is tempting to push some of the important causes to the “back burner”. Advancing women to Boards is one of those strategic initiatives that is likely to be delayed in times of crisis. But what if we change the way we approach it? What if we consider women on Boards not just a cause that is good to promote when businesses prosper, but rather a path that will lead companies out of the crisis and back to prosperity? Here is why.
In times of crisis leaders must think and act fast. Company leadership needs to show determination to make bold decisions that may be overdue. It needs a strong, agile, and diverse Board! Multiple studies proved that Boards that have female directors demonstrate better decision making and financial results. Companies with strong female leadership enjoy a better Return on Equity (ROE) and Earnings per Share (EPS), based on the study performed by MSCI. Excluding women from Boards, therefore, translates into missed financial and leadership opportunities.
To survive and recover, many companies will be forced to pivot, innovate, adjust strategies, and even change their business models. Achieving new results while employing the same old approach is a failing preposition. Women directors bring a new fresh perspective to the company leadership!
With companies shifting to remote work, recalibrating their businesses, coping with uncertainty, the leadership tone at the top has never been more important. As the anxiety and mental burnout becomes a major threat to the workforce’s wellbeing, leaders are expected to show compassion and regularly connect with their teams. According to an analysis of thousands of 360-degree reviews, women are rated better than men on key leadership capabilities. Reportedly, women outscored men in most communication capabilities, such as inspiring and motivating others, building relationships, communicating powerfully and prolifically. In many cases, women tend to express their feelings and empathy more freely then their male counterparts.
On top of that, women often handle multiple roles as they juggle their family, professional and communal responsibilities all at once. They can speak from various perspectives and relate to different people. Adding women to Boards and a C-suite team is a powerful way to establish effective corporate communication and inclusive culture.
As much as we have achieved in the last hundred years, full gender equality is still an elusive ideal. In 2019 women held 50% of the US jobs, while of the companies that made up the 2019 Fortune 500 list, only 33 had women CEOs. Women are disproportionately represented at the Board and other leadership positions. The impact of COVID-19 is expected to widen the existing gap in gender inequality even further.
Women on Boards serve an important missionary role of promoting gender equality. Women directors have an opportunity to advocate for female rights and, most importantly, serve as a role model for other women. A strong message of encouragement is sent to women from all walks of life when they witness achievements of their female counterparts. Electing women to Boards has an impact that goes beyond the realms of one company. It promotes hope and reaches millions of women.
“The boardroom’s largest untapped resource is the female brain.” – Tara Swart.