Women may be terrible drivers but their abilities to make fair decisions when competing interests are at stake make them better corporate leaders, humanities scholars have found.
Don't like sweeping stereotypes? It's better not to read surveys dressed up as science, then. But if you think surveys are science, a survey of over 600 board directors concluded that women are more likely to consider the rights of others and to take a cooperative approach to decision-making. This approach translates into better performance for their companies.
The paper in the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics found that male directors, who made up 75% of the survey sample, preferred to make decisions using rules, regulations and traditional ways of doing business or getting along while female directors were less constrained (that is 'conservative'. in humanities-speak) by these parameters and were more prepared to rock the boat than their male counterparts.
In addition, women corporate directors were significantly more inclined to make decisions by taking the interests of multiple stakeholders into account in order to arrive at a fair and moral decision. They will also tend to use cooperation, collaboration and consensus building more often – and more effectively – in order to make sound decisions.
"We've known for some time that companies that have more women on their boards have better results," says Chris Bart, professor of strategic management at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. "Our findings show that having women on the board is no longer just the right thing but also the smart thing to do. Companies with few female directors may actually be shortchanging their investors."
So men running corporations makes even less sense. Since business cares most about money and success and not people, it would seem to be the case that women would run 75% of companies, if women-run boards have better results. Yet globally women make up only about 9% of corporate board memberships, leading to calls for quotas and legislation to mandate gender equality. Apparently capitalism is so incompetent it can't even fix itself because mandates have done little to increase female representation in the boardroom, despite what Bart and McQueen claim is substantial evidence - correlation and causation arrows they happen to like - showing that their presence has been linked to better organizational performance, higher rates of return, more effective risk management and even lower rates of bankruptcy. Bart and McQueen say that women's decision-making ability makes them more effective than their male counterparts gives boards a method to deal with the many issues and concerns currently confronting corporations.
"Women seem to be predisposed to be more inquisitive and to see more possible solutions. At the board level where directors are compelled to act in the best interest of the corporation while taking the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders into account, this quality makes them more effective corporate directors," says Gregory McQueen, senior executive associate dean at A.T. Still University's School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona.