Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gender Diversity is Important for Your Corporate Board

Ideally, the best corporate board for a given company would be one that is diverse. Hiring board members with the same background and education could find your company "stuck” and unable to draw from variety of experiences.

When it comes to gender diversity, a recent study supports the idea that women who are corporate board members tend to be more open to new ideas than their male cohorts. So, does this make women on corporate boards better than men?

And the survey says…

The International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics put up the survey that polled 624 board directors from all across the Canadian business sphere. The breakdown of those surveyed ranged from 75% male and 25% female. According to the results women were cited as being "more likely to use co-operation, collaboration and consensus building" when presented with the task of problem solving. Across the boardroom, the men were found to come up with their solutions by "using rules, regulations and traditional ways of doing business."

Chris Bart is a professor of strategic management at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University and a co-author of the study. Upon reviewing the results he concluded that "The way women operate as directors often contributed to a company’s success, raising the question of why women are still in the minority in Canada’s corporate boardrooms. Why would governance, nominating committees and board chairs not want to have that skill set, that competence available to them in abundance?” asked Bart.

Here are some other qualities found from the women board members who took part in the study:

  • Women were less constrained in their problem-solving skills
  • More likely to take into account the interest of a wider range of company stakeholders
  • Considered fairness an "important factor" in decision making process
  • Women are more inquisitive
  • Can see more possible outcomes to situation

As for the men who participated in the study, Bart found that, "The old boys club culture is still alive and well in corporate boardrooms across all sectors. Men are pack animals and they are very much quick to recognize the hierarchy of the alpha males in the group,” he said upon the report's release. “They would be very unhappy with people coming in with different values or views to the board.”

Can you look at your corporate board and say it is as diverse as it can be? It might be time to consider shaking things up especially if your business has hit a wall. Nothing like "fresh thinking" to put a company back on track on the road to success. 

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