Seats at the Table Mean Better Returns

Letter to the Editor of the Boston Business Journal, August 9, 2019

“Quantitative data about the results delivered by women in C-suite and executive leadership has been accumulating for some time. Nevertheless, they resist. One of the ways of resisting is to ask for data, for proof of what we as women leaders bring to the table. Here’s proof. “

To the Editor:

For leaders who are women, the quest for gender equality in C-suites and on boards is too often a trek mired in bias and resistance. Hope for eventual parity has been sustained by incremental achievement and the publication by supportive organizations of facts and data that substantiate the general economic benefits of gender equality. The recently released 5-year track record of the Impax Global Women’s Leadership Index (“GWLI”) and the fund that uses it as a benchmark, the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Fund, is a game changer in the quest for a proof statement, validating the long-term financial success of companies with a critical mass of women leaders on the board and in executive management.

The metrics of the GWLI index are simple: start with a global index of public companies (MSCI World Index) and narrow it down to those that have the highest gender leadership scores. Over the past five years that group of companies – about 400 of the roughly 1600 – has delivered 1.36% more in annual return than the index as a whole. What does this mean? That companies with more women in leadership roles have delivered better returns than companies with fewer women in leadership roles.

What’s so important about that? Quantitative data about the results delivered by women in C-suite and executive leadership has been accumulating for some time. Nevertheless, they resist. One of the ways of resisting is to ask for data, for proof of what we as women leaders bring to the table. Here’s proof.

The Boston Club is now and has been for many years a regional trailblazer supporting companies and organizations in their efforts to advance women leaders. We actively support our members and other high-achieving and community-minded women as they work toward achieving leadership roles in their chosen fields. The Boston Club regularly conducts research on the progress of women in leadership in Massachusetts’ largest companies and nonprofits. While we can indeed report forward motion in specific areas, we’d like very much to see and report broader change. We applaud the many companies and organizations who are enthusiastic supporters of multiple dimensions of diversity and the many others who are on their journey.

More women in leadership roles means demonstrably superior financial results over time. Shareholders, stakeholders, students, and other constituents of communities being served by organizations deserve the best outcomes our leaders can deliver. Instead of devoting energy to resisting, let’s work together to put more women leaders in place and accomplish more together.

Lisa A. Cohen

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