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by Private: Ben Brett

What Would Happen If Women Become Leaders Instead of Men?

I’ve been seeing this article in my social media feed for a while now, but not really felt like giving them the satisfaction of collecting my click.

But eventually, I caved in.

The headline, Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders, is… just so provocative. I’m a man, and I have been a leader in the past. And now I coach, develop and mentor leaders. I just didn’t like the implication of it, and direction things were going in. It was negative, and whilst it’s hard to not see a grain of truth in it, I didn’t feel it was a helpful tack to take.

It does, however, provide unusual clarity and analysis, and I would recommend that you read it.

Now, it did inspire me to explore the opposite. That’s to say, what would happen if women become leaders instead of men. Well, as it turns out, there’s one thing that would happen that I think all of you would find very compelling.

Firms with a higher proportion of female leaders have higher profitability.

It might seem like a bogus claim, but the reality is that there’s comprehensive research that indicates that companies with diverse leadership make more money.

McKinsey conducted research into [gender] diversity between 2012 and 2015 and found a strong correlation between diversity at the leadership level and profitability. Not only did the best-performing companies have the highest diversity score, but the least diverse companies consistently underperformed those with a better score.

These findings were echoed by a report by the Peterson Institute in 2017 that looked at 21,000 companies across 91 countries. It found that a company with 30 per cent female leadership could expect to add six percentage points to their net margin, compared with a similar business with no female leaders.

So far so good, but increasing the profitability of your recruitment firm is obviously more complex than just appointing women to leadership roles. Ergo, we need to look at what it is that women bring, that perhaps men don’t.

Female leaders bring empathy and intuition to the table.

RSA, the life science recruiter, carried out some research into gender diversity in the life sciences industry in the UK and found that women bring empathy and intuition to leadership. Nearly 62 per cent of respondents think that women contribute differently to men in the boardroom. This difference was seen in an overwhelmingly positive light – three quarters thought they possessed a greater awareness of the motivations and concerns of others.

Women in leadership roles provide a more welcoming culture.

A diverse makeup of a company can help new recruits feel more welcome in general but in particular other women. It should be every recruitment executive’s mission to create a culture where every individual is valued, respected, supported and encouraged. It’s my opinion that a diverse makeup of the whole company achieves this best.

When women are in leadership roles, flexibility and work-life balance improve.

As more and more women fill senior positions, companies are forced to look closer at their family policies, helping their workers balance professional and family life. This change, in my opinion, would have taken much longer if women had less representation in senior positions. One only needs to look at other regions to see how fewer women in boardrooms equal less favourable family policies – this report produced by Morgan Stanley has some clever visualisations of female representation in boardrooms across different regions.

Recruitment companies that have diverse leadership are more attractive to investors.

Granted, this is not exactly an underpinning of improved performance, but I thought it warranted an inclusion anyway. PWC talks about diversity as a reputational risk in a report from 2017, where a non-diverse workforce and leadership risks deterring talent and putting customers off. Many shareholders and investors will also monitor things with a keen interest, given a company’s reputation’s effect on the share price. And frankly, given the positive correlation between diversity and a higher rate of return, it would indeed be madness to not pull in that direction.


If you’d like to find out about how to improve your recruitment company’s performance through increased diversity I’d be happy to have a no obligations consultation. You can email me directly.



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