Women and Management – Prejudice or Truth

While researching my last topic on CSR I discovered an interesting study from Catalyst and Harvard Business School (HBS). The study proposes that there exists a strong interdependence between the degree of Corporate Social Responsibility and the portion of women  in executive management. Furthermore the study states that business benefit from employing women in upper hierarchy level not only from a higher potential for sustainable growth but also financially. Since 90% of my class including me are women aspiring to become managers one day I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at women in management.

Anabel Pérez (from the Catalyst) notes,

“Companies are realizing that advancing more women to senior leadership roles has many benefits, including increased financial performance and sustainability.”

Management-issues.com are of a contradictory opinion:

“Considering women to be better leaders than men would over-emphasize feminine relationship-building skills to the exclusion of masculine competitive instincts. The truth falls somewhere in the middle, as with most either-or pendulum swings.”

The article continues with asserting that the essential question we should focus on is not men vs women but different organizational cultures and structures. What we need in a modern company is a heterogeneous mixture of both sexes.

“But there is no doubt that we are in the midst of an unstoppable shift to more feminine cultures.”

Before we can truly evaluate if this assumption is true or false we have to take a look at the status quo in management.

Status Quo

Considering the before mentioned opinions the share of women in management is still surprisingly small. According to the DIW (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung):

Within Germany, women hold only 0.9 % of the leadership positions in the 100 largest German companies and 2.6 % in the 200 largest companies (Holst and Wiemer, 2010)

Another unsettling fact is that the share of females in middle management in medium-large enterprises in Germany even declined  2.3 % since  1995!

This is of particular importance in regard to CSR practices as studies reveal that business with a higher percentage of women invest bigger amounts on CSR causes.

Firstly a study conducted between 1997 and 2007 showed that businesses with women board directors donate significantly more funds than did companies with hardly any women—estimates are up to 2.3 million dollars more for each additional woman board director.

Secondly according to a study in 2007 companies with a higher percentage than 25 of female corporate officers  made annual contributions that were 13 times higher than those made by companies with no female corporate officers.

And lastly companies with more women corporate officers contributed noteworthy more funds – estimates state that for one percent increase in women corporate officers, yearly donations increased by 5.7 million dollars.

Traits of women and men as managers

“People consider men to be agentic, possessing traits such as ambition, confidence, self-sufficiency dominance, and assertiveness, whereas they consider women to be communal, possessing traits such as kindness, helpfulness, concern for others, warmth and gentleness.“

declares Andrea Learned in one of her post in Sustainable Business.

According to “women matter – female leadership” by  McKinsey there are nine key leaderships behaviors.

According to the study women apply the first five more often than men and consequently improve organizational performance.

Observations show that companies with a higher rate of women on their board outperform their competitors

  •  42% higher return in sales
  • 66% higher return on invested capital
  • 53% higher return on equity.

What to do with this information?

In the before mentioned article management-issues.com very rightly points out the truth lies somewhere in the golden middle. Hence we should focus on building a more diverse and equal workforce. Both sexes male and female have certain advantages to offer and to beat the competition we need a healthy mixture of both to collaborate, attract consumer but also need to stay competitive and be aggressive at times.

McKinsey supports this assumption.

“It is only when there is a critical mass of women who use those behaviors that are complementary to men’s that performance significantly increases. While left hemisphere contributions are important, they need to be made in the service of something that only the right hemisphere can bring in order to be constructive.”

CSR denotes the “integration of values and social engagement” into what is known as the traditional ways of doing business. So our goal should be to increase the rate of women in higher management positions and to achieve symbiosis and Synergie through including both genders and a common business strategy.

Here’s to the future

Top business organizations are already making efforts to promote women in management.

Leadership programs for women in areas that are usually male dominated (e.g. technology and sale) are launched all around us. IBM and Coca Cola are two great examples of that. The objective is to achieve synergies –  to combine two or more agents so that the combined outcome is greater than the sum of the individuals.

Deutsche Telekom, hopes to raise the percentage of women in senior and middle management from 12 to 30 percent by the end of 2015.

They strive to become one of the first German companies, which also is a member of the DAX 30 index of blue-chip to introduce gender quotas.

Whereas this seems to be very encouraging, on the authority of the guardian, there is still a significant amount of women who tend  to belive that their hopes of becoming a member of senior management is constricted by the glass ceiling effect.

What do you think? 

Lastly I want to ask you your opinion.  After reading my post, do you think that the women of our generation will finally make it to the top?

Or will they be hindered by the traditional character of business?

Do you think Synergie is the way to achieve true greatness?

In my next post I will take a closer look at what is actually being done to empower women in management and achieve a higher women quota in senior management position and hopefully I will be able to answer some of the questions mentioned above!


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About Nicpic

My name is Nicola but I usually go by Nicky. I'm 21 years old and study International Business Management at the HWR in Berlin. Before moving to Berlin I spent a year traveling around Southeast Asia as well as Australia. I am very passionate about different cultures, languages and exploring the world, which is partially due to the fact that I lived in Jakarta, Indonesia for four and a half years. Apart from that I am a huge music fan and love doing all sorts of team sports, whether it's Basketball, Soccer or Volleyball. Fastexposure is my first Blog, which I am really enjoying so far! I try to offer a great variety of topics always with a hint of humour and some personal experiences since I find those stories are easier and more enjoyable to read! Still I hope I can also always offer some interesting new facts. If you have any further questions,input, ideas or would like to be included as a part time Blogger just contact me! Cheers and enjoy our Blog!
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7 Responses to Women and Management – Prejudice or Truth

  1. Pingback: This week on FastExposure « fastexposure

  2. katharinakueppers says:

    Hey:)
    First thing I noticed was that in my opinion there is a question mark missing in the title.. or did you leave it out on purpose?
    I like how you gave a deeper insight into a topic we usually think that we know everything about, which I realized reading your article is not the case.
    However I have some, I hope useful, critique for you:
    1. Your first list looks a little awkward. Think about it, does it really make sense to arrange these information as a list? I have the impression that you portrayed it this way only for the sake of using a list.
    2. Between the last 2 pictures your usage of bold confused me a little, because it made ‘Here’s to the future’, ‘gender quotas’ and ‘What do you think?’ seem the same, which I don’t think you want it to be right?
    3. Lastly your ending was a little abrupt. I think it would have perfect if you maybe gave a little outlook on what to expect after asking these (rhetorical?) question. I am not quite sure what to do with those questions… are you going to answer them in one of your next posts?

    I’m sorry for this relatively harsh critique, but I have to say that these are only ‘optical’ issues.
    Content wise your post is as interesting and detailed as ever.
    And since I didn’t find anything else you could possibly still improve, I just had to empazise on this little issues I could find. Good job Nicky, you are very close to a post where I won’t be able to find a single critical point.

  3. Nicpic says:

    Hi Kathi,
    thank you for your very useful comment! I did not think it was harsh but rather full of constructive criticsm on things I can easily improve on! Thank you for that!
    I left the question mark out on purpose, because I did not think it matched the content of the post, but I can see how this might be confusing for followers.
    After reading your comment I reevaluated my post and had to agree with you on several points. Hence I tried to edit my post using the points you mentioned. I exchanged my list with three little paragraphs and tried to make my ending more appealing to the reader by elaborating a little bit and introducing my topic for next week’s post.
    I would be grateful if you could tell me if this is more appealing to you as a reader!
    Cheers Nicky

  4. lilmeu says:

    Hey Nicpic!

    Thank you for your fabulous blog post. I really appreciate that you write about such a theme. “Women and Management” is a very interesting as well as current issue for me as an IBMAN student who is going to work as a manager in the future. Like you, I´m a women as well but I never thought that CSR plays an important role in this context. Therefore, I was really excited about start reading your blog post.

    On the one hand, it is really nice that you include different opinions of professionals in the beginning. This embodies an appropriate introduction for me as a reader because I realize how different and controversial the opinions about such an issue are. Thus I asked myself:

    Who is right? Anabel Perez? Management-issues.com?
    Does a right opinion really exist?
    How can be answer this question correctly?

    You provided an answer by analyzing facts. To my mind, it was not very surprising that more man than women have a leading position as a manager. However, it was really interesting to get to know that firms with a higher percentage of females invest more in CSR projects.
    Can you give me an example which company does so?

    Additionally, I was impressed by the quotation of Andrea Learned who describes how men and women in management are seen. Of course, character traits like “kindness” and “helpfulness” are assumed to be typical for women, no matter in which position they work. But I was very excited about how professionals estimate such an behavior. Therefore, your visual about leadership positions and organizational performance fit in your blog post very well!

    However, I cannot imagine the observations of a recent study you mentioned after that. I mean, it´s maybe possible that a company with a higher percentage of female workers can improve their sales and so on. But does it really has a “66% higher return on invested capital”? I just cannot imagine such an improvement just because of better organizational performance. Or does I misunderstand something?
    Moreover, I have to admit that even other quotations (e.g. by McKinsey) are very adequate with regards to your theme. Thank you for linking those persons and companies!

    To answer your question in the end: “No, I don´t think that the percentage of women in a leading position will exceed the male proportion soon.”
    Why do I think so?
    Well, as you said: the traditional understanding of the men as the “alpha animal” is still common, especially in a conservative society. In one of our latest “Work Business and Society”-classes we discussed gender equality recently and even some students where of the opinion that men have a less difficult access to leading positions than women.
    On the other hand, I want to add that this phenomenon can change if we realize that women really CAN work as hard and sophisticated as men. Therefore, we have to introduce e.g. equal pay for men and women who perform the same tasks! This lead to the assumption that BOTH sex’ are qualified to work as a manager.

  5. Nicpic says:

    Hi Lilly,
    wow thank you so much for your comment! I can clearly see that you really read and thought about my post, which makes me very happy!
    Regarding your feedback firstly I have to admit that I was really surprised by those numbers as well, but did not question them. I got them from this study. After having another look my guess is that they took similar companies (same sector and size) to compare. Maybe the percentages are so high, because firms with no comparable “female occupied firm” simply got left out. Some successful primarily male occupied firms were not included. It’s like we learned with Professor Wiliams last semester “the biggest lies are statistics”.
    I very much enjoyed your answer to my question! I agree with you on several points (for example I don’t think that female managers will dramatically increase in the foreseeable future unless progressive action is taken).
    At the moment I do not have a concrete example of a firm, the research I found always examined the issue on average and not through a case study, but I will look into it and hopefully I will turn one up, the first one I have found is JP Morgan (even has a female CEO in asset management), but I’ll have to take another look to see of their CSR strategy is really all it’s supposed to be.
    Another reason that might be an explanation for this phenomenon is that while men are more analytical women are better in long-term planning. Therefore maybe they see a greater importance in CSR.
    Thanks again for the comment

  6. HAS says:

    Hey Nicpic,

    I was looking for an interesting blog post and was directly attracted by your title, because women in management are always a hot topic and as you already said it is even more current in our situation at the moment. I liked how you tried to include lots of expert opinions, which were very diversified and gave a great and more subjective insight into the topic. Your appendage has a high potential of writing an awesome blog post, but as the others there are some point which are a little disruptive.

    For example, your length is just too much. I am sure there would have been the possibility to make at least one more post put of your ideas.

    Secondly, try to connect the quotations more fluently into the reading flow. Perhaps by using they-say-I-say structure more often. Of course I know you already made an effort in this regard, but I am convinced that you can make it even better next time.

    Like Kathi, I consider the first part not suitable in terms of structure. The opinions are great and really could make a point, providing that the structure fits as well.

    Nevertheless, you did a great job, though. Your writing style is very appealing, your arguments are carefully chosen and with considering the critique in your next blog post it will turn out to be a huge success.

  7. Pingback: Women in Management – We can do it! Part I « fastexposure

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