CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

How adding women executives alters ‘C-Suite thinking’

April 8, 2021, 12:51 PM UTC
Making success happen
New research probes the 'why' behind the business case for gender diversity.
Getty Images

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Amanda Gorman covers Vogue, a missing chair leads to a diplomatic gaffe in Turkey, and new research explores the ‘why’ behind the business case for gender diversity. Have a great Thursday.

– Women’s effect on ‘C-Suite thinking’. Research has, again and again, made the business case for adding more women to senior positions; companies that do so report better results across a spectrum of measures, from profitability to social responsibility. But the why behind this concept—why having more female leaders leads to such outcomes—hasn’t been as closely scrutinized. New research aimed to change that and produced some interesting findings.

Researchers from Lehigh University, Maastricht University, and the University of Antwerp studied the gender makeup of executive appointments at 163 multinational companies alongside their R&D expenditures, M&A rates, and the content of letters to shareholders over a 13-year period. Overall, they found that following the appointment of women to top management teams, firms became more open to change, less open to risk, and shifted focus from M&A to R&D, according to analysis published in the Harvard Business Review.

“[Our research] ultimately suggests that including more women in executive decision-making may lead firms to consider a wider variety of value creation strategies,” the authors write.

Those takeaways are fascinating on their own, but I made special note of one of the report’s caveats. It found that adding female executives only changed “C-suite thinking” in cases where the team already had a female member, which supports what we’ve long known; that having just one woman is not enough.

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Poetic cover. Amanda Gorman is on the May cover of Vogue—making her the first poet to cover the magazine. The story follows her journey from young poet to star of the inauguration and beyond. Vogue

- First chair. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alongside European Council President Charles Michel. But when the two European leaders arrived, only Michel was offered a chair; von der Leyen was left standing and eventually seated on a sofa closer to a lower-ranking official. Von der Leyen is the first woman to hold her role, and gender is seen as a factor in the diplomatic gaffe. Washington Post

- Family first? Emi Nietfeld worked as a software engineer at Google straight out of college, and she says the job became her life. But once she filed a complaint with HR over a manager's inappropriate behavior, everything changed. "I learned the hard way that no publicly traded company is a family," she writes. New York Times

- Book deal. Simon & Schuster, the publisher led by Dana Canedy, signed former Vice President Mike Pence to a two-book deal; his autobiography is scheduled to be published in 2023. Says Canedy: "His journey as a Christian, the challenges and triumphs he has faced, and the lessons he has learned, tells an American story of extraordinary public service during a time of unrivaled public interest in our government and politics." Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The Biden administration tapped former USAID chief Gayle Smith as coordinator of the United States’ global COVID response and health security, a State Department position that will include leading vaccine diplomacy. Audible hired longtime Hollywood exec Zola Mashariki as head of Audible Studios. Private equity real estate firm AmCap hired Alice Catalano as managing director investor relations. Debra Ness will step down as president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. 


- City history. Tishaura Jones will be the next mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, making her the first Black woman elected to the office. Jones, city treasurer, defeated fellow Democrat Cara Spencer. The mayor-elect says her campaign has "begun breaking down the historic racial barriers and the racial divides that exist and have existed for generations [in the city]." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

- Royal rift. In Jordan, Prince Hamzah this weekend accused the government of corruption; his half-brother, King Abdullah II, then told Jordanians that Prince Hamzah had agreed to "put Jordan’s interest, Constitution, and laws above all considerations." The situation has put a spotlight on Queen Noor, the American-born mother of Prince Hamzah. Her only comment on the feud? "Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander." LA Times

- Plus data. Stitch Fix, the personal styling and shopping service led by founder and CEO Katrina Lake, has developed a big data analytics operation that helps the company predict what clothes people will want to buy. Now Stitch Fix is offering its data insights from plus-size customers to other brands that want to launch extended sizing. Vogue Business

- Best bracket. Bloomberg terminal users can compete against each other in charity challenges—including annual NCAA brackets. This year, Franklin Templeton CEO Jenny Johnson came out on top, besting runners-up Bill Ackman and Tony Ressler with three out of four correct picks in the college basketball semifinals. The CEO is the first woman to win Bloomberg's challenge. Bloomberg


Survey results show concerns of women in tech Axios

4 challenges companies need to grapple with after the way we work has changed forever Fortune

Target vows to spend $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025 Fortune


"Value me, see me, I exist. I'm a human being too."

-Actor Viola Davis on the perspective of her titular character in the Oscar-nominated Ma Rainey's Black Bottom