Why women leaders are good for business

Last Updated on Thursday, 3 December, 2020 at 12:39 pm by Andre Camilleri

Dr. Roberta Lepre is founder and Managing Director of Weave Consulting – helping businesses to deliver added value through positive social and environmental impact.

A maelstrom of change has swept over the world in 2020. COVID-19 has impacted countries and people in intricate ways. One of its direct consequences has been the deepening of extant inequalities, including gender disparities. Mckinsey & Company’s 2020 Women in the Workplace Report highlights that COVID-19 has exacerbated gender gaps, reversing positive trends at the start of the year. Similar concerns apply to Europe, that has yet to reach the halfway mark to full gender equality. With the domain of power holding the lowest score in the Gender Equality Index, women remain under-represented in the kinds of decision-making positions that shape politics, economics and society. In the private sector, almost three quarters of those sitting on corporate boards are men. The situation is even more worrisome in Malta, where women who sit on the boards of directors of listed companies account for a measly 8.5%.

Despite ongoing challenges, COVID-19 has also taught us critical lessons about women’s ability to lead in difficult times. Journalists Henley and Eleanor Ainge Roy have rightly pointed out that: “plenty of countries with male leaders have also done well. But few with female leaders have done badly.”

Women leaders are good for business
The dilemma becomes even more confounding when one stops to consider the business case for women in leadership. Consultant, motivational speaker and owner of DifferenceWORKS LLC, Caroline Turner (2012) has argued that there is compelling evidence linking “inclusion, engagement, and gender diversity in leadership with superior retention, productivity, and profitability.” 

Catalyst looked at three critical financial measures, comparing the performance of companies across most industries with the highest representation of women on their boards to those with the lowest representation. On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53%; companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 42% and companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66%.

Similarly, Credit Suisse’s CS Gender 3000 in 2019 Report found that “the combination of family-owned companies with substantial female representation at the executive level appears to have substantial benefits across multiple key areas. Growth tends to be stronger, margins higher, gearing lower, and cash flow returns better. The focus on “doing good” also appears to be greater, which is supportive for investors with an ESG or impact focus”. The report added that “companies with more diverse management teams have generated sector-adjusted outperformance approaching 4% a year compared to those displaying below the average”.

The data speaks for itself. Yet emerging literature also underscores gaps in the competencies of women leaders, including “leadership identity, voice, presence, and confidence”.  Building a network of mentors and coaches providing targeted professional support can break down these barriers and act as a gateway to success.

Care about Malta being more inclusive and more successful? Support the ASTRA Project via the Zaar Campaign
The Astra Project, led by Core Platform in collaboration with Weave Consulting and funded by Voluntary Organisations Projects (VOPS)  scheme, builds on the findings of research in the area of women leadership in business to create a mentoring programme that can empower talented women in Malta to step up in their careers.  A direct by-product of the increase in women in leadership roles in Malta is a more diverse, efficient and sustainable corporate world.

Mentorship is a crucial part of the Astra programme, complemented by a series of expert-led workshops that will coach participants in business development, planning and leadership skills. Through Astra, participating companies have an opportunity to build a pipeline of candidates who are ready to fill senior leadership roles, elevating their organisations to the next level through inclusivity and diversity. Candidates are matched up with qualified and inspirational mentors to accompany them in this journey.

The project needs your help to achieve its goals. Via a Zaar Crowdfunding Campaign the team is raising funds to ensure the viability of this projects. Rewards for donations include: participation in a motivational workshop by Robyn Pratt, an equality and diversity policy, a gender impact assessment and participation in the ASTRA mentoring programme.

If you as an individual or a company wish to contribute to enhancing Malta’s global competitiveness, bettering its international reputation and bringing about tangible change, support the ASTRA Zaar campaign at this link: http://www.zaar.com.mt/projects/astra/

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