Like most Australian women, I cheered loudly when Deloitte Australia appointed Cindy Hook as CEO at the end of last year. They were the first of the big four accountancy firms locally to apoint a female CEO, just as they were globally. In April KPMG followed suit in the US, so lets hope we’ll be cheering another female Big Four CEO soon.
It’s a real shame that in 2015 we still have to “celebrate” these wins. It shouldn’t be that unusual.
At Salesforce we have a women's network called FemmeForce. I’ve seen a lot of consistent research as part of our Femmeforce initiative - to promote greater gender diversity in Salesforce - that supports the notion that as well as being fair, more diversity in our teams makes good business sense, especially at the top. What’s disappointing is that this research has been around for a number of years yet we have struggled to learn from it.
McKinsey found in a report in 2007 that companies with a greater proportion of women in leadership roles than the average achieved 64 per cent better equity growth.
In a Bain & Co report in 2011, they found a “substantial improvement in effective decision making in companies where a diversity of perspectives are taken into consideration”.
The Catalyst Group in 2011 found a strong correlation between greater gender diversity at board level and company performance.
But more importantly, two recent studies by MIT looking at how diverse groups of peoples working together performed on a variety of tasks, made some compelling discoveries:
“Th[e] “c factor” [collective intelligence] is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members. It is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.”
The research established scientifically that with a greater proportion of women in a group, there was better collaboration and improved decision making. It discovered that the single most important success factor in a group is its "average social sensitivity." Basically, the greater the quotient of emotional intelligence found in a group, the more effective it will be. As we all know, women always score far higher than men on what is known as “emotional intelligence” - or mind reading.
For me this highlights what many of us already knew. We miss a huge opportunity when we do not include more women in our teams - at all levels, from the Board down. It makes strategic sense and results in increased business performance.
Our CEO at Salesforce recently set a target of having 30-50% of attendees be women at all significant meetings - what a fantastic simple idea that every organisation can put in place to achieve diversity of perspective when making strategic decisions.
I would love to hear examples of when a female perspective has enhanced your team’s performance.