Cheryl offers: Last week SMU Executive Education hosted the introductory session for their new women’s program, Women in Motion. The session was attended by high level women in consulting, telecommunications, IT sales, accounting, law and others. The title of the session was a reference to the book, Through the Labyrinth, by Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli. The activities were clearly linked to the book; I know, I’ve read it. The reference to the labyrinth certainly seems a lot more plausible today than the old glass ceiling. The idea of a labyrinth has been around since ancient mythology and conveys the idea of a complex journey with a goal worth achieving. As Eagly and Carli point out “Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead.” This seems to be much more the case for women contemplating successful careers today in any field, private or public, corporate or entrepreneurial. The really attractive part of referring to a woman’s career success as a labyrinth to me is the fact that a labyrinth offers the true possibility of success, whereas the old glass ceiling seemed to indicate being trapped forever hungering for a world that can only be seen, never acquired. We’ve come a long way baby!
The post with the most views on our blog in the last couple of days has been Bob’s excerpt from the NY Times with Linda Hudson, part of the leadership team at BAE.
Here are a couple of observations from Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay:
A study in France found that companies with more women in management positions did better during 2008 – had higher profits – that those with fewer women. “Feminization of management seems to protect against financial crisis… In conditions of high uncertainty, financial markets value companies that take fewer risks and are more stable.” (Michel Ferrary, Professor of management at the CERAM Business School in France).
Women deliver profits, often in big numbers, and we are worth hanging on to… By every measure of profitability – equity, revenue, and assets – Pepperdine’s study found that companies with the best records for promoting women outperform the competition.
In other words, women in business, at the top of the leadership team in business, may be… good business. And now comes this announcment, from the Huffington Post this morning: Naissance Capital: New Fund Invests In Companies With Female Managers, Anticipates High Returns. (Note: all of the links within these paragraphs are worth a look). Here’s an excerpt:
More than a year after overleveraging and mismanaged risk provoked a financial crisis that sent the global economy on a perilous downward spiral, analysts are still wrangling over its causes and implications.
But one recurring point of debate is whether a higher proportion of women in senior management positions could have forestalled the crisis. In other words, if women had run the banks, would they have taken on as much risk? Or, if women were better represented in jobs associated with risk taking, would the economy be healthier?
One investment firm is betting on it.
Naissance Capital, a niche money management firm based in Switzerland, is set to launch its Women’s Leadership Fund early next year. The Fund will only invest in companies where women are represented on boards and in management, and will take an “activist stance” against companies in which women are underrepresented.
Their claim hinges on recent research, including reports issued by the consulting firm McKinsey and the research group Catalyst, demonstrating a correlation between female management and enhanced company performance. The McKinsey study held that “companies with a higher proportion of women in their top management have better financial performance” (although it didn’t arrive at a causal conclusion). Also, two researchers at UC Davis found that men tend to trade more “excessively.” In their study, men traded stocks 45 percent more than women, reducing “men’s net returns by 2.65 percentage points a year as opposed to 1.72 percentage points for women.”
I think having women at the top in business may turn out to be good business practice.