Promote Women to Increase Profits

Women currently earn 57% of all bachelors’ degrees, 50% of professional and doctoral degrees and hold half the nation’s jobs.  Yet, women remain grossly under-represented in leadership positions where they hold only 18% as reported by The White House Project Report, 2009.  The numbers are even worse in technology companies with the top 200 California public companies only having 8% women in leadership positions.    Before you start justifying these numbers with “women aren’t ambitious, don’t want it, don’t have what it takes…” consider the following.  A recent study by Catalyst reports that women and men have equal desires to be CEOs.  Women and men also report similar levels of work satisfaction, reasons they would potentially leave their companies and strategies for advancing.  Nor are the lackluster numbers for women in senior management due to unsatisfactory performance when they do reach the top.  In fact, the opposite is true.

Catalyst reports that companies with the highest representation of women in their top management are more profitable than those with the fewest women at the top.   This result has been confirmed with studies by McKinsey and Company, Pepperdine University and Harvard Business Review analysis.  The bottom line:  promoting women in business is good for business.

You might protest that finding quality women is difficult for a software company since only 12% of engineers are women.  Google has set a goal of 25% of their engineers should be women.  Why?  They know that Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products and User Interface, Susan Wojcicki, VP Product Management, and Jean Fitzpatrick, VP Engineering for Search, bring unique perspective on what Google’s customers want, half of whom are women.  Not only that, Google knows these executive women change, for the better, the dynamic of how work gets done at Google.

I co-founded and ran a software company, Acucorp, Inc.  Our senior executive team had three men and three women.  Under them, we had equal numbers of men and women as managers.  We were unusual.  We thrived in a dying market with a 14% pre-tax profit and eventually sold our company to our number one competitor at a high price.   We had a very loyal customer base giving us 90% of our revenue as recurring revenue.  Was it the women?  You won’t know unless you try promoting women for profits.

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