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Diversity key to maximize business value

If you look at the facts the answer is crystal clear. Research shows that companies with the highest number of women in top management had the best performance, with a higher return on equity than the average. The same goes for sales growth. Hence, there is obviously a correlation between gender diversity and good business.

Two women looking at notes on a wall
Åsa Tamsons 

Head of Business Area Technologies & New Businesses

Category, topic & hashtags

I have a mentor who wrote a book about what makes people successful and happy. It is called  Centered Leadership and the author is Joanna Barsh. To understand the secret sauce, she interviewed 250 leaders across the world ranging from engineers to prime ministers and one of the best conductors in the world.

One of the insights that she learned was that none of these leaders would be where they are today without someone else supporting them, or willing to take a risk on them. It is not enough to be a mentor that says “Hey, I will listen to you”. A good mentor needs to be willing to open up opportunities for you, to be willing to sponsor you. I have been lucky to have that kind of mentor. And that person gave me a very important lesson: you must continue to do that yourself. It doesn´t matter where you are in your career. You can always sponsor someone. Someone who you can create opportunities for.

Today I am an active mentor and sponsor. And I am an advocate for diversity and encourage more woman to take on leadership opportunities by instinct. Because to me, diverse leadership teams are an obvious prerequisite in creating a healthy workplace, better informed decisions and drive a healthy business characterized by sustainable growth and profit.

So how did I reach such a conclusion? If you look at the facts the answer is crystal clear. Research shows that companies with the highest number of women in top management had the best performance, with a 41 percent higher return on equity than the average. The same goes for sales growth. Companies in which women represent over half of senior management have experienced higher sales growth than the overall MSCI All Country World Index, that captures all sources of equity returns in 23 developed and 26 emerging markets. Hence, there is obviously a correlation between gender diversity and good business.

Still, research also shows that women do not see the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Even if they are willing to give all that extra work required to propel them all the way to the top of the company. The same research shows that many women are not at all motivated by many of the prevailing norms and leaderships styles in the corporate world. Yet another report shows that a considerable amount of the stupid, unnecessary mistakes typically is made where conformity rules.

Therefore, I am a fundamental believer in gender diversity. When we have diverse leadership styles and various perspectives in the room, we make better decisions, as we dare to challenge the decisions with more views. Therefore, it leads to better economic results. In teams where you do not have diversity, we often see not only the same gender, but also the similar types of people in the management team.

So, to me diversity is a business issue. Diverse leadership styles have a clear impact on how we make decisions and how we conduct our businesses. Therefore, both women and men leaders should be focused on the importance of diversity – in order to maximize business value for their company.

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