Posted by: ginalazenby | March 19, 2009

Is the absence of women from the Boardroom a disaster?

A Getty image from the article in The Times on the sexes

A Getty image from the article in The Times on the sexes in the Boardroom

There’s a great article by Anjana Ahuja in The Times today “Higher heels lower risk”. Leeds University Business School (LUBS) did a study which suggests that women can make the difference between success and bankruptcy.  According to Professor Nick Wilson of LUBS, who looked at 17,000 companies that were wound up in 2008 (wow, what a number!) having at least one female director on the board appears to cut a company’s chances of going bust by about 20%. His research showed that there is a strong correlation between healthy accounts and the presence of women on the Board. Prof Wilson says “gender balance is worth taking into account”.  We could definitely have told you all that but it’s great to have research to quote!

Prof Wilson added that the financial services industry, as well as banking, is “a bit of an old boy’s network. It has one of the lowest proportions of female directors.  Having more women could well have made a difference”.  He noted that the next task is to find out WHY women make such a difference.      His three main theories are~:

  1. having a balance of men and women on the board gives you a balance of complementary skills making for a better-run company. Evidence shows women tend to take on less debt and are good at managing cashflow.
  2. women tend to take a less excessive approach to risk
  3. as women have to work harder to get to the boardroom, the ones who do make it are exceptionally effective.

In the same article, reference is made to a quote in Director Magazine by Bill Morrow of Angels Den Investment Network, “facts are facts, and it is the more frugal and pragmatic attitude that women bring to their business planning that will see them succeed where many of their male counterparts may fail in the impending recession.”

So it looks like times are really changing quite fast.  Not only will we be welcomed in the higher echelons of business – we might even be actively sought after.  Now that’s a turn up for books.

What do YOU think about women having a better chance of leading us out of this global recession?


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