STUDY: Companies With Women On Their Boards Perform Better

Sheryl Sandberg, recently named the first female member of Facebook's board of directors

A new report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute shows that businesses with women on their boards outperformed comparably sized companies with all-male boards by 26 percent, suggesting that a mixed-gender board provides an important boost for a business. According to the study:

Our key finding is that, in a like-for-like comparison, companies with at least one woman on the board would have outperformed in terms of share price performance, those with no women on the board over the course of the past six years. […]

In the middle of the decade when economic growth was relatively robust, there was little difference in share price performance between companies with or without women on the board. Almost all of the outperformance in our backtest was delivered post-2008, since the macro environment deteriorated and volatility increased. In other words, stocks with greater gender diversity on their boards generally look defensive: they tend to perform best when markets are falling, deliver higher average ROEs through the cycle, exhibit less volatility in earnings and typically have lower gearing ratios. We can therefore conclude that relative share price outperformance of companies with women on the board looks unlikely to be entirely consistent, but the evidence suggests that more balance on the board brings less volatility and more balance through the cycle.

When it comes to the upper echelons of U.S. business, many barriers to women still exist. In one specific example, women make up more than half of the financial industry’s workforce, but fewer than 3 percent of U.S. financial companies employ a female chief executive. Overall, 36 percent of U.S. companies have no women on their boards of directors. Moreover, a female CEO makes only 69 cents for every dollar that a male CEO makes.

Steven Perlberg