Over the recent past, there has been increasing awareness of issues concerning equality for women within businesses. However, many boardrooms are still largely dominated by men. Among the top 100 best performing companies in Europe, women account for more than 15 per cent of board membership, but this is still below the target of 25 per cent set for 2015. Many articles now address the issue about boardroom equity for women and this has attracted the attention of business leaders (Milne 2015). This paper outlines some of the impacts that boardroom equity for women will have on the company. The paper also explains what other companies and best-in-class are doing as far as boardroom equity for women is concerned, as well as the ethics of the issue.
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Leaders who support boardroom equity for women may have good intentions for their organizations, but workplace tensions about gender issues may make such organizations to face severe negative consequences such as reduced bottom line (Ray 2014). Such reactions are influenced by the socialized conditioning about gender roles. Individuals learn to play specific roles at an early age, and they learn to internalize, reinforce, and perpetuate these responsibilities in both non-subtle and subtle ways. As people grow old, they may involuntarily find themselves defaulting to the boy-girl responsibilities in business settings. They are therefore surprised to see women performing roles that are meant for men within the business environment. Businesses are encouraged to embrace boardroom equity for women in order to do away with problems associated with attitudinal and structural gender biases (Milne 2015).
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Boardroom equity for women is a means of increasing gender diversity on boards, and this promotes better consumer base representation, better business performance, and better decision making in the boardroom. According to Ray (2014), lack of equity for women in the boardroom is one of the problems facing businesses today and male-dominated boards are advised to create room for women. Gender equity for women in the boardroom brings together varied experiences and different opinions which are beneficial to the decision making process. When women are allowed to take part in the decision making process, they can present views that result into better decisions being made than those that result from male-dominated boardrooms (Milne 2015).
According to the World Economic Forum, women are believed to be the main controllers of household spending internationally. They therefore form a very important component of the consumer base. Organizations that promote boardroom equity for women ensure full representation of the consumer base and increased benefits related to spending issues. Additionally, companies that have women as part of the board are able to perform better financially (Peach 2015). On average, organizations that give room for women are likely to realize high returns on equity and general earnings. While many people support that gender diversity is good for the boards, some people criticize boardroom equity for women claiming that women tend to have limited management experience, and an increased presence of women in board may result into losses in the company’s bottom line. Despite the criticisms, boardroom equity for women has numerous positive impacts on companies and modern organizations need to work hard towards promoting gender equity in the boardroom (Peach 2015).
Majority of modern companies that understand the benefits of promoting gender diversity on boards highly encourage boardroom equity for women. For example, organizations all over Europe have increased presence of women on corporate boards (Sweigart 2012). In 2008, women represented only 9.7 percent of the board members in approximately all top 200 companies. Currently, women form more than 15 per cent of board members in Fortune top 100 companies (Sweigart 2012). According to Sweigart (2012), many companies in the United States have created room for women on boards. With women forming part of the board, these companies benefit from increased participation at the lower levels. The companies therefore manage to create a more balanced plan for the future, which increases the possibility of high returns and improved performance.
Like most countries in the world, Norway is known for its good image as far as gender equality is concerned. The concept of gender equality in Norway is applied right from the top-most leadership of the country. The finance minister and the prime minister of Norway are both females. Women make up 40.7 percent of non-executive directors of the best-performing companies in Norway. Female managers in Norway total up to 6.4 percent. Norway applies the quota law to increase female participation in the boardroom. The high proportion of women on Norwegian boards is associated with a higher education level in the boardroom (Sweigart 2012).
Those countries that still criticize the idea of boardroom gender equity for women should change and formulate strategies that will help promote gender diversity. Even if they do not implement the quota system that is used in Norway, these nations can focus on other ways to improve bender balance in boardrooms as described by Dickens (2015). According to Dickens (2015), modern business leaders need to learn that meaningful changes in organizations are better than new laws. They should make human resource managers to understand the benefits of boardroom diversity in order to make implementation possible.
Additionally, companies need to come together and share their best practices concerning issues related to gender diversity on boards. Modern leaders should also support the 30 percent Club that is devoted towards attaining 30 percent representation of women on boards even without using the quota system. Again, organizations are advised to enroll more females to the networking forums and groups in order to encourage women to support each other and develop then skills. Dickens (2015) emphasizes that companies that are expecting to reap positive benefits from boardroom diversity should be patient because a significant change cannot occur overnight.
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Supporters of diversity on boards claim that lack of boardroom equity for women is unethical. The codes of ethical conduct of contemporary organizations clearly address the issue of discrimination of employees in the workplace (Milne 2015). For example, the code of conduct of many companies warns their managers against discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, sex, religion and on several other grounds. According to Bamford and Croft, (2014), the new generation of workers demand non-discrimination and are only attracted to companies that take a strong stand on gender equity on boards. Leaders must remember that promoting boardroom equity for women is ethical and a source of good image for the company. In addition, the number of women in board should be increased because women perform very important roles in corporate social responsibility initiatives. Consequently, the ethical standards of many organizations improve when women are on boards (Milne 2015).
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