Firms with at least one woman on their executive board generate greater returns for shareholders, a new study has found, bolstering the argument that gender equality is better for business.
In a survey of 50 North American and U.K. companies, PA Consulting Group found that those with females on their board boasted higher total shareholder returns (TSR) over a six-year period.
"These 50 organizations demonstrate that the presence of women in senior positions only serves to increase the organization's culture and performance… it is absolutely in companies' best interests to raise their game when it comes to promoting gender diversity," said the PA report.
(Read More: Why Women Make Boardrooms Better)
PA found that companies with at least one woman on their board generated up to 600 percent TSR during this time period, while those with none made a maximum of 100 percent.
However, PA cautioned businesses not to rush to recruit external female talent.
"It is very tempting to think that the quickest solution to the challenge of raising the percentage of senior female leaders is to 'buy' the talent from outside. Although this might seem like an immediate solution to the problem, our research shows that those organizations with a higher percentage of internal appointments within their executive committee demonstrate a much higher total shareholder return. So the injection of external female talent may solve the short-term problem, but may not drive sustained performance over time," the report said.
According to PA, 15 percent of North American companies listed on the FTSE All World Developed Index have no women on their boards, compared with 46 percent of U.K. companies on the FTSE All Share Index, and 73 percent of companies in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Despite decades of well-meaning interventions, and in the face of incredible pressure from society, many companies have had limited success in accelerating women up the management ladder," said Lesley Uren, PA talent management expert, in the report.
—By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her onTwitter @jenny_cosgrave
If you hate your job, you're not alone. But having in-office access to catered meals, a pingpong table or free massages may not make you any happier at work.
Just 30 percent of employees are engaged and inspired at work, according to Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, which surveyed more than 150,000 full- and part-time workers during 2012. That's up from 28 percent in 2010. The rest … not so much. A little more than half of workers (52 percent) have a perpetual case of the Mondays—they're present, but not particularly excited about their job.
The remaining 18 percent are actively disengaged or, as Gallup CEO Jim Clifton put it in the report, "roam the halls spreading discontent." Worse, Gallup reports, those actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. up to $550 billion annually in lost productivity.
No wonder companies have been looking for ways to make workers happier.
One trend that has taken off is cushy office perks, said management consultant Bob Nelson, author of "1,501 Ways to Reward Employees." For example, Google—which has topped the Fortune and the Great Place to Work Institute's annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in four of the past seven years—boasts a roller hockey rink and nap pods, among other amenities, at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
When the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced last week that it was canceling half of its three-day races next year, the charity blamed the economy. But it also acknowledged that its decision to stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood was a factor.
In early 2012, Komen announced it was pulling its grants for breast-cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, drawing an immediate backlash from Komen supporters and abortion rights advocates. Within days, Nancy Brinker, the group's founder and CEO, reversed the decision to defund the organization. Then, in August, Brinker announced that she would be stepping down.
But 10 months later, Brinker still holds her position and tax documents reveal that she received a 64-percent raise and now makes $684,000 a year, according to the charity's latest available tax filing. Komen said the raise came in November 2010, prior to last year's controversy.
Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, which evaluates and rates charities, called Brinker's salary "extremely high."
"This pay package is way outside the norm," he said. "It's about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size. ... This is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross."
The American Red Cross had revenue of about $3.4 billion, while Komen's was about $340 million last year. Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern makes $500,000, according to the most recent financial documents available for the charity.
Komen Foundation spokeswoman Andrea Rader told NBC News via email that Brinker "did not receive a pay increase in 2011 and did not accept one in 2012, nor will she receive one in 2013."
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"Our CEO pay reflects the comprehensive and global nature of our work," she said. "We fund research; we grant to thousands of community health and breast cancer patient support programs; we advocate for access to cancer care through our public policy programs, and we're active in breast cancer programs in 30 countries, with an emphasis on serving women in low- and middle-resources nations."
Stacey Tillman of Sandusky, Ohio, donated a few hundred dollars a year to Komen, but she stopped after the Planned Parenthood announcement.
"It just seemed a betrayal of what I wanted them to represent, denying those women that use Planned Parenthood from breast cancer screening and mammography, so it angered me a great deal," Tillman said.
(Read more: Rich Don't Give More to Charity)
The fact that Brinker still heads the organization further upsets her.
"It just all seems very misleading," Tillman said. "They will tell the public what they think they want to hear, but I don't feel they're being honest."
Rader, also speaking on Brinker's behalf, said the search for Brinker's replacement is continuing.
A.G. Lafley's return as boss at Procter & Gamble will be beneficial to the company because he "knows where the bodies are buried," management expert Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told CNBC on Friday.
"It's pretty exciting to have somebody who knows the ground, knows the key constituents," Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "[But] the downside of course: What did [he] contribute to the current mess?"
The appointment of Lafley as chairman and CEO of P&G, the company he ran from 2000 to 2009, was announced Thursday and is effectively immediately. He succeeded embattled chief executive Bob McDonald—who had taken the reigns when Lafley retired.
(Read More: P&G Brings Back A.G. Lafley as Chairman & CEO)
"Here when you have somebody who comes back from the past," Sonnenfeld continued, "say Michael Dell [at Dell], we've seen that or Howard Schultz of Starbucks [and] of course the legendary move of the return to power of Steve Jobs [at Apple], it can be great."
On Lafley's appointment, hedge fund manager and major P&G investor Bill Ackman told CNBC: "A.G. Lafley is one of the greatest CEOs and we're delighted to have him back."
My daughter's boyfriend, post-college, is trapped in a room with me, which is not good. I'm interrogating him. We'll return to him later.
"Empathize with the enemy," said Robert McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense. You'd expect a Defense Secretary to be tough and, well, defensive. But for McNamara, empathy was a major life lesson.
How do you handle references?
Last week, I got an email with a fresh, new approach: "DON'T call any of my references!" the marketing consultant wrote.
That got my attention, but seemed harsh. Suppose I hired him, and he created a hostile marketing campaign? "STAY AWAY from our products and services. And NEVER try to contact us. DON'T even think about it."
More about the consultant later. Meanwhile, consider three other approaches to references:
If you ask my wife about my best traits, "flexible" won't be on her list. So I couldn't wait to tell her, one day, what a long-time client said.
"Apparently," I said, "I'm the most flexible consultant she's ever worked with."
"Apparently," my wife said, "she's never had lunch with you."
My wife has a point here. I'm the sort of person who orders salad "with dressing on the side," a tuna sandwich "without extra mayo," and iced tea "with very little ice."
But my client wasn't talking lunch. And she wasn't just complimenting me, she was subtly influencing me. "I value flexibility," she was basically saying. "Keep doing that."
How do you communicate expectations?
"Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life?" Steve Jobs asked John Sculley, then President of PepsiCo. "Or do you want to come with me and change the world?"
That's a loaded question. It says, "Look, this job of yours, running PepsiCo, is extremely idiotic. I'm offering something big."
Sculley was persuaded it was big. (Years later, he would call the job a big mistake.)
Do you ever ask loaded questions?
(Read More: Career Advice: How Focused Are You?)
Guest Author Blog by Jake Breeden author of, "Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues."
Sometimes collaboration hides a lack of accountability and balance masks an unwillingness to make a decision. Collaboration and balance are two virtues that can combine to cover up some nasty virtues. Leaders must take a hard look at the virtues they are proud of to make sure no vice lurks within.
Breaking the proverbial glass ceiling is going to take more than an organizational hammer. Although every swing is absolutely necessary from that direction, creating environments in which all people can do their best work, women must be willing to chip away at self-limitations.
(Read More: A Titan's How-To on Breaking the Glass Ceiling )