Women are taking on leadership roles and adding value at the top levels of organizations more than ever before – case and point, Marillyn Hewson, who was recently named the first female CEO of Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors. So why is it that many of today’s organizations still find it a challenge to place qualified women in top positions – especially when research clearly shows that companies that demonstrate gender diversity at the executive level outperform their competitors? In my role at the nation’s third largest HR services and staffing company, I often hear from clients, candidates and our own employees about how important it is for corporations to acknowledge the critical role women play in the workplace. According to research from the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California, Berkeley, the number of women on corporate boards correlates with a firm’s sustainability performance, and businesses with one or more women serving as board directors tend to outperform other businesses in the stock market and usually achieve higher profit margins.
“ Women and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. Corporations build better societies if they have balanced boards.” – Halla Tomasdottir, Executive Chair & Co-Founder, Audur CapitalAdditional research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates women make up more than two-thirds of employees in 10 of the 15 job categories likely to grow the fastest in the coming years, yet make up less than a quarter of the entire STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematic) workforce in the U.S. today. Hewson's highly visible role is one more step toward helping women excel on the leadership track. In fact, a recent Randstad Engagement survey found that having women such as Hewson in leadership positions will encourage other women to enter these traditionally male-dominated fields. According to our survey, 76 percent of working women say that when considering taking a position with a new company, having women in positions of leadership is a very important component in their decision-making process. As women continue to advance in the workplace, the future success of a company will ultimately be determined by how it invests in its female workforce today.