More Women in the Boardroom Can Improve Profitability: Pros

It makes business sense to have more women in the boardroom as they have a positive impact on the bottom line, said women executives at a seminar in Singapore organized to mark International Women's Day.


A 2011 survey by U.S.-based non-profit organization Catalyst shows that company boards made up of 19-44 percent women achieved 26 percent more return on invested capital than those firms with no women directors, according to McKinsey's Head of Public Affairs, Southeast Asia, Penny Burtt.

She was speaking at the Singapore Management University and Procter & Gamble organized conference.

Burtt says a separate McKinsey research also shows that gender diversity impacts businesses positively.

"Companies with more women at the top tend to have more leadership capabilities, better decision making and better corporate governance," Burtt said.

Despite the advantage of hiring women, they still lag men when it comes to top managerial positions. For example, in the United States, according to McKinsey data, only 2-3 percent of current Fortune 500 companies are run by women.

"When you look at the representation of women in corporations, we're still absolutely not there yet," Burtt said.

The European Commission announced earlier this week that it was seeking to impose a quota for women in top managerial jobs, a year after companies were called upon to voluntarily increase the number of women on boards to 30 percent by 2015 and to 40 percent by 2020.

Currently only 13.7 percent of board members in Europe's large listed firms are women, according to a Reuters report.

P&G's Joanne Crewes, who heads the company's premium brands division called Global Prestige, says while there is a need for more women at the top, she does not advocate quotas that the European Union is pushing for.

"Personally, I would not like to be sitting at the table, just because I am a woman," Crewes said.

But she points out that diversity has been a key focus for her company. Globally, one-third of senior management at P&G are women, also 5 out of 11 members on the P&G Board are women, according to company data.

"You can't afford not to be diverse. You can't afford not represent the consumers or the markets that you are going after," Crewes said.