In 2010 McKinsey did a study on the performance of companies based on the presence of women on boards of directors. The study was conclusive: having women on the board will make a company more successful. The Harvard Business Review analyzed McKinsey’s study, and the numbers don’t lie: we need more women on boards. Women on boards won’t just drive your company to modest success; women will drive your return on equity up 41% and better your operating results by 56%. Why the correlation?
Despite such compelling numbers, however, the number of women and minorities on U.S. boards of directors has steadily declined. In 2010, women held only a fraction of the board seats of Fortune 500 companies, 15.7%. If women earn 44% of MBAs in the U.S. and 57% of university degrees, why aren’t we rushing to seat them on our boards?
HBR’s answer is “gender fatigue.” The review states that men aren’t aware of the gender gap; they just don’t see what’s really going on around them. Fifty six percent of men think that women strongly progressed in the workplace in the last decade, whereas only 39% of women agree. Almost half (49%) of women see gender bias as a live issue in the workplace, whereas only 28% of men do.