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Five Reasons Why Women Belong In The C-Suite



Cindy Diffenderfer is the CEO of Orion Haus a leader the homesharing industry – turning everyday enters into real estate investors.

The number of women CEOs in America in 2021 is record-breaking, but when the bar is so low, it’s not a hard threshold to cross. At present, there are only 41 women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies, which represents just 8.2% of all Fortune 500 companies. 

According to a 2020 report from Development Dimensions International (DDI), more than half of the organizations surveyed did not even evaluate any women candidates at all when searching for their next CEO. Companies with women at the C-level typically have profits that surpass those led by men, according to a 2019 S&P Global analysis, so why are women not being considered for leadership more than 50% of the time?

Though a company’s bottom line is typically measured by its financial strength, there are significant factors driving the company’s success that are rarely acknowledged when reaching those achievements. Here are five reasons why companies can benefit from hiring more women to C-suite positions:

1. Women drive most of the purchasing decisions.  

According to a 2020 study by Nielsen, “By 2028, women will own 75% of the discretionary spend, making them the world’s greatest influencers.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 American Time Use Study shows that women, on average, spent 2.38 hours per week in 2020 purchasing consumer goods compared to men who spent 1.47 hours on average per week.  

The C-level gender disparity is likely holding back many organizations from reaching their full potential, especially for companies whose products are being bought primarily by women. 

2. Firms with female CEOs often show better returns. 

The previously mentioned S&P Global analysis showed that firms with female CEOs and CFOs are typically more successful at producing superior stock price performance when compared with the market average. And, in the 24 months after female CEOs were appointed to their roles, their companies had a 20% boost in stock price momentum. 

In my opinion, this shows that not having women in key leadership positions is actually hurting Fortune 500 stock prices.

3. Many women outperform men on key leadership traits. 

2019 Harvard Business Review study revealed that women scored higher than men in 17 out of 19 traits considered desirable in a leader, including taking initiative, inspiring and motivating others and resilience — all excellent qualities for any leader to have.

I’d like to think that the reason I’ve been able to retain talented colleagues and have work relationships that have lasted decades across multiple businesses, roles and industries is at least partly due to my management and leadership skills as a woman. 

4. Women-led companies often offer work culture benefits that set them apart.

In a survey conducted by the Harris Poll in 2018, 50% of respondents said they’d rather work at a woman-led company. Of those who felt this way, 46% were male. The reasons? Women-led companies are thought to be more compassionate, purpose-driven and also provide access to childcare. Having childcare options, in turn, can improve the work-life balance for many working parents and can be the tipping point for many women to return to or drop out of the workforce.

At the companies I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of, we’ve also taken pay parity seriously. Everyone gets compensated fairly at or above industry standards, without concentrating the wealth primarily at the top positions.

5. Women executives have an impact on company innovation.  

The results of an April 2021 study published in the Harvard Business Review showed that when women are in the C-suite, companies become more open to change, focusing more on increased research and development and less on risk-taking moves. The researchers found that, overall, the presence of women in high-ranking positions was enough to shift the corporate mindset in favor of knowledge-building vs. simply buying or acquiring.

How do you find the female leadership you are looking for? My suggestion is to look at those who have already shown their commitment to the work you’re doing and hire from within. Groom your next CEO from your existing talent pool. If that’s not a feasible option, there are always professional networks, word-of-mouth referrals or networking with female-led companies or company boards. In the end, I believe it’s worth the effort.

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