A new collaborative study conducted by researchers at Lehigh University, Maastricht University in the Netherlands and University of Antwerp in Belgium found that firms seek more change and less risk when women are in top management teams.
Management Professor Corrine Post led Lehigh’s end of this study.
Post’s research involved collecting and analyzing data from tens of thousands of election transactions for shareholder rights.
From this data, Post and her colleagues looked at the percentage of votes for male and female board directors. They then interpreted company factors and outcomes that may have resulted from differences among gender in top business positions.
The findings indicated that women provide more diverse ways of looking at and dealing with company decisions, and are beneficial in improving a company’s performance.
Management Professor Andrew Ward said having a board completely made up of white men, all coming from similar educational institutions and corporate backgrounds, results in similar perspectives.
“Having a much more diverse perspective on the board is inherently challenging (itself) to sort of address these problems better,” Ward said.
Post and her colleagues found the impact of female appointments was greater when women were well integrated into a business as one of many new appointees instead of just one.
They also discovered from their research that women care less about tradition and more about challenging the status quo than their male counterparts.
Ward said firms will hire people who will promote the company the most and make it the most money. He believes adding diverse perspectives to the board goes hand in hand with that.
“While you’re looking at hiring each individual person and you want the best individual people, if you call 10 individual people who all have the same demographic then that actually diminishes your overall group performance, because you’re taking away that kind of diversity,” Ward said.
This kind of research that promotes women in top management positions is considered important in breaking barriers for gender diversity in business by students.
Ellie Diege, ‘23, said she believes there is less research about women in business generally because women are underrepresented in fields like finance and accounting.
“I think it’s great to see the positive impact women are making,” Diege said. “I think people need to be exposed to that. It’ll also motivate a lot more women to get involved in business and want to be able to represent themselves in the workplace.”
Diege said women want to be seen as equally competitive and credible toward their male counterparts in business and believes Post’s research evidences that.
“I don’t want to be a successful woman or man in business, I want to be a successful person in business,” said Alex Copits, ‘23. “Just someone who’s successful. I don’t want to be specified as a woman in business. I just want to be a person in business.”