An abundance of research now exists to show, beyond a shadow of doubt, that appointing women to the C-suite is not only the right thing to do from an ethical and moral perspective, but also the savvy business strategy.
In fact, all high quality, commercially-oriented business strategies should nowadays ensure that top management structures include at least two women.
Because having women in senior leadership has been proven to impact businesses positively with regards to profitability, social responsibility, health and safety, and customer service. In addition, having women around the decision-making table also reduces excessive risk-taking, while promoting wider change and transformation.
Secondly, research also shows that it is in fact only when there is more than one woman at the leadership table, that there is a substantial and significant shift in thinking and action by the collective.
The reasons for this are not yet conclusive, but the evidence is. I can however comment that, anecdotally, I have heard over and over from the lone woman on the board or executive committee, that her voice was often drowned out. In addition, women report having to provide a substantial amount of evidence, data and vouching for by other credible voices, in order to have their own strategies, ideas or perspectives taken seriously.
We can surmise why that is, and spend time debating the inequity of this situation.
And/or (I prefer the or, in this instance), we can take this data point into consideration and recognize that if the impact of having women on a board is to be of any substance at all (beyond just good optics), then only one just won’t cut it.
Certainly, one is a start. But let that not be where gender diversity at leadership level ends. Because it turns out that one is good, but two or more are better. Better for effecting real change and transformation. And better for your company’s bottom line.