The article below was originally published on the World Economic Forum’s blog.
The debate about getting more women on boards often focuses on why doing so creates a better, more profitable, more competitive company, with research from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2014, by Catalyst, EY and other organizations all providing evidence. The question of why boards are not more gender balanced in the first place, however, could use further reflection and more granular observations.
For example, if I were chairman of a board, my job would be to ensure that the best decisions emerge from board deliberations. And how do I get the best from the board of directors? It might be useful to look at some of the dynamics of the board room through a gendered lens (I would also add that it might be useful to look at it through the lens of anyone considered an outsider).
I would recommend the board chair consider some of the following:
A board chair who is truly aware of the governance processes and board dynamics might begin to see patterns. They might discover that some of the women on the board have a tendency to process things in a slightly different way to the men. Of course, not all men or women behave in distinct ways, but the cohorts will probably behave in ways that, if properly managed, can lead to better results for the organization. It might make it even clearer why it is important to have more women on their board of directors.
Laura Liswood is the Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders.