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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Women on Boards: Is this a Male Issue?

Mr. Richard Joly, President of Leaders & Co. presented “Women on Boards: Is this a Male Issue?” at the Institute of Corporate Directors luncheon on January 15th in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Mr. Joly highlighted that every Board needs to recruit knowledgeable, experienced and talented Directors to provide oversight and to support the organization. These important skills and attributes exist in both men and women. But as numerous studies have shown, in Canada, as elsewhere in the world there is a clear and stubbornly persistent gender gap at the corporate table.
The lack of women on Canadian corporate Boards is an issue of demand and not supply as there are many qualified women ready and willing to serve. The gender gap on Canadian Boards is especially dismal.

• So why has progress been so glacial?
• What must be done to close the gender gap on corporate Boards?
• What must men do?
• What must women do?
• Is there a role for government to play?

The time is now for a conversation with Canada’s corporate community to start the process to make change and to increase the number of women on Boards.
Mr. Joly conducted a two year global study in relation to this topic and found the following results:

• Both genders are equally capable to operate within a Board setting.
• Women and Men equally understand the three most important competencies: Sense of Ethics, Strategic Thinking and Judgment.
• Both genders view “Communication” from an opposing perspective.  
           o Women are tactful and adapt the message to their audience.
           o Men are transparent and say what they feel.

• This may be a root cause why Men find it a challenge to appreciate Women’s contributions on Boards. Men find it difficult to decode Women’s messages; they can discount Women’s comments as a lack of business acumen and not take them seriously.

Some key points from his presentation that stood out were:

Avoid the “Make it Pink” Pitfall:

• Gender diversity is a cultural issue not a Women issue.
• Chairmen and CEOs must lead a cultural/behavioral change in their immediate environment to address gender diversity.
• Too many gender diversity programs are viewed as condescending and out of touch.

“Diversity Payoff”:

• Diverse organizations outperformed their non-diverse peers.
• Study from McKinsey (180 publicly traded companies in France, Germany, UK and US):
           o 53% higher ROE than the bottom quartile
           o 14% higher EBIT than the bottom quartile
• Catalyst published similar studies with similar results. 


Mr. Richard Joly
Mr. Richard Joly is an expert in executive search and has vast expertise in consulting for Boards of Directors and CEOs, and is well versed in the assessment of Board effectiveness and in the search of new Board members. Since 1997, he has managed more than 350 senior executive recruiting assignments for national and multinational corporations, large and medium-sized businesses, start-ups, and private and publicly traded companies. Mr. Joly is renowned for his expertise in consulting with Boards of Directors and selecting effective Board members. He has conducted over 150 Board evaluations and he is a trainer at the College of Director, University of Laval, in the Directors' certification program. He works with corporate Boards to improve efficiency and recruit new Board members.
For more information on this topic please feel free to reach out to Ms. Brenda LaRose, Managing Partner with Higgins Executive Search / Leaders & Co. at or 204-257-9929.

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