Women at the top - in sport and business

A key story at the London Olympics has been the representation of women in sport.  It's the first Olympics in which every national Olympic committee has sent female competitors to the Games.Meanwhile, the Credit Suisse Research Institute has published a report seeking to identify the links between gender diversity at board level and share price.By measuring the share price performance of over 2,300 companies around the world the report finds that gender diverse boards show better than average growth and a better percentage return on equity.  The report states that "it would on average have been better to have invested in corporates with women on their management boards than in those without".The researchers sought for answers to four broad questions about the representation of women at board level:

  • Evidence to support the theory that stock-market performance is enhanced by having a greater number of women on the board?
  • Are there any differences in the financial characteristics of companies with a greater number of women on the board?
  • Reasons for difference in performance
  • Factors limiting female representation at senior level
The report also discusses reasons for the link between performance and gender diversity.  These include:
  • A better mix of skills
  • A better reflection of the consumer/decision maker
  • Improved corporate governance
  • A diverse board can lead to better average performance across all board members
  • Risk aversion
Some other interesting findings:
  • European companies have relatively higher ratios of women at board level and have experienced the fastest rate of change in female representation.
  • Companies in sectors ‘closer to final consumer demand' have a higher proportion of women on the board
The report is available to download here.