Multiple studies reveal that female leaders are more effective than their male counterparts. The question is, what are you going to do with this information?
By Geoffrey James
A recent article in TheAtlantic.com pointed out that hedge funds run by women make three times as much money as hedge funds run by men, and that companies with female CEOs outperform companies with male CEOs by nearly 50%.
The data is so compelling that, according to The Wall Street Journal, Barclay’s Bank has set up a stock fund that invests in companies with a female CEO or a board of directors that is at least 25% female.
What’s fascinating about this story, though, isn’t the data, but the attempt to “mansplain” it away.
For example, the Atlantic article speculates that the disparity in hedge fund performance might be because women are more risk averse. Hello? Isn’t the inclination to avoid stupid risk a sign of higher intelligence?
Indeed, whenever you hear a story about teenagers doing something stupid (like lighting themselves on fire) or CEOs saying or doing something stupid, you don’t even have to read the story to know that the fools are male.
Similarly, the Atlantic article suggests that the reason female CEOs outperform male CEOs is because only companies that are already successful are likely to recruit and hire a female CEO.
For the past 20 years, business pundits have pointed out that every industry is in a process of “disruptive innovation,” that today’s markets change with lightning speed, and that only nimble companies can survive.
Except, apparently, when they have women CEOs, in which case companies can just cruise on automatic pilot because the previous CEO, a male, did such a spectacular job. Give me a break!
Look, let’s just admit it: When it comes to doing business, on average, women are smarter than men. For crying out loud, are our male egos so fragile that we can’t bear to admit what’s been obvious for years?
As somebody who’s worked for about a dozen women and two dozen men (mostly editors), my observation is that the women, in general, were smarter, sharper, more reliable and, well, smarter.
With all this in mind, I have the following advice for entrepreneurs:
- Take a closer look at your hiring policies to root out bias against women. Because most people can’t perceive their own prejudices, you may have to over-correct.
- Review your promotions list to make sure a qualified woman isn’t being overlooked in favor of an equally qualified or less-qualified man.
- Stop creating corporate cultures that are hostile to women. Doing so is just driving away the brainpower you need to grow your company.