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Girls allowed: breaking the diversity stalemate

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Research shows a significant relationship between gender diversity and stronger financial performance. The Credit Suisse Research Institute, for example, found that share prices in organisations with at least one woman on the board outperformed those with male-only directors by 26% over a six-year period.

Despite this, diversity in UK boardrooms still has some way to go. Of the UK companies listed on the FTSE All Share Index, 46% still have no women on the board, and a recent report found that, “at the current rate of change, it will take over 70 years to achieve gender-balanced boardrooms in the UK”. So, what can organisations do to break the diversity stalemate?

Our research report, ‘Girls Allowed’, suggests that developing a high-performing culture is key to creating the conditions for women to be more willing and able to rise to the top, and making diversity a reality on the senior team.

Our research – which covers 50 leading organisations – establishes a clear relationship between organisations with strong financial performance, a higher percentage of women in executive leadership teams, and a high-performance culture. It’s not clear which element comes first in this virtuous circle, but our analysis suggests that developing a high-performance culture is a more effective way of encouraging gender diversity at a senior level than targeted diversity programmes which, so far, have largely failed.

Extending diversity: recommendations for change

Our report sets out four clear priorities for organisations that want to extend diversity in the executive leadership team, and reap the associated performance benefits. Our recommendations focus on:

  • aligning your culture with employee, shareholder and leadership objectives, and measuring achievement with these objectives in mind
  • building talent from within, setting out a career path for your top talent to reach executive leadership positions
  • challenging the language of merit which works against diversity and keeps women out of senior leadership positions
  • engaging the best female talent by understanding what they want from their relationship with your organisation in the long term.

Download the report

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