Advertising Feature The future looks bright with a growing number of women making their mark on the digital world
Beyond equality, there are sound business reasons to encouraging more women to attain the highest ranks in companies. Recent research on Fortune 500 companies has revealed the strong financial advantages of an increase in the numbers of women at board director level. Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance, on average, than those with the lowest representation of women board directors. In addition, the research points out a notably stronger-than-average performance at companies with three or more women board directors.
Studies looked at three critical financial measures: return on equity, return on sales, and return on invested capital, and compared the performance of companies with the highest representation of women on their boards to those with the lowest representation. Return on Equity: On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53 percent. Return on Sales: On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 42 percent. Return on Invested Capital: On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66 percent. Gender balanced boards are more successful than mono-cultural boards on every measure, the numbers speak volumes.
Above the financial gains, there is also the under-utilised skills of female university graduates. In Ireland particularly, the latest data from the Central Statistics Office shows that women are more likely to have a third-level qualification, with over half (55.3%) of women aged 25-34 having a third-level qualification in 2013 compared to just 42.7% of men in this age group. Female students outnumber males in business, administration and law, this highly skilled talent pool can bolster the economy as a whole. Meanwhile increasing numbers of women are studying science, engineering and technology degrees, but over 70% drop out of SET careers, compared with half of men. This is a huge waste of investment, talent and opportunity, especially as the key challenges of our time – technology, renewable energy, medical advances – require diversity of technical and societal engagement.
In the simplest monetary terms, the market of female consumers is worth $20 trillion and women are estimated to be responsible for about 70 per cent of household purchasing power. Companies need to get serious about leveraging female talent. New markets beckon and women are needed to drive us there. It’s time to jump on board and get more women on the boards of Irish companies.