women in leadership 3:A business case for women


The gender gap isn’t just an image problem: our research suggests that it can have real implications for company performance. Some companies have taken effective steps to achieve greater parity.

SEPTEMBER 2008 •Mckinsey Quarterly. Georges Desvaux, Sandrine Devillard-Hoellinger, and Mary C. Meaney

Women in developed economies have made substantial gains in the workplace during recent decades. Nevertheless, it’s still true that the higher up in a company you look, the lower the percentage of women.

But some companies have moved successfully to increase the hiring, retention, and promotion of female executives. Their initiatives have included efforts to ensure that HR policies aren’t inadvertently biased against women or part-time workers, to encourage mentoring and networking, to establish (and consistently monitor at a senior level) targets for diversity, and to find ways of creating a better work–life balance. Changes like these have a price, but there are business advantages to making them—above and beyond the branding benefit that might accrue to companies viewed as socially progressive.

Research in Europe and the United States suggests, for example, that companies with several senior-level women tend to perform better financially. Hiring and retaining women at all levels also enlarges a company’s pool of talent at a time when shortages are appearing throughout industries.CONTINUE READING

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