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07/19/2009

Fem Firm Finance

In a Post OpEd, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman try to persuade firms to hire more female exces, because many studies show that female led firms are hugely profitable compared to male led firms.  Kay and Shipman, however, never mention that anyone who believed this result should expect to make big profits just by buying female firms and selling male firms.

If many stock speculators believed Kay and Shipman, firm stock prices would jump upon hiring more female execs, making most CEOS quite eager to hire more women execs.  There would be a boom in female execs and Kay and Shipman would not have bothered to write their oped.  Since that didn’t happen, I’ve gotta believe most speculators don’t believe those studies, and so I shouldn’t believe them either.  If you think otherwise, go speculate.  That OpEd:

The sexy new discussion in policy circles around the world, thanks to the recession, is whether a significant shift of power from men to women is underway — or whether it should be.  Accounting giant Ernst & Young pulled out charts and graphs at a recent power lunch in Washington with female lawmakers to argue a provocative bottom line: Companies with more women in senior management roles make more money. …

And it’s not only one study, but at least half a dozen, from a broad spectrum of organizations such as Columbia University, McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs and Pepperdine University, that document a clear relationship between women in senior management and corporate financial success. By all measures, more women in your company means better performance.

Pepperdine found that the Fortune 500 firms with the best records of putting women at the top were 18 to 69 percent more profitable than the median companies in their industries. McKinsey looked at the top-listed European companies and found that greater gender diversity in management led to higher-than-average stock performance.

Is there a magic number of women? In some cases, it’s just three. Catalyst, a research firm focused on women and business, found that Fortune 500 companies with three or more women in senior management positions score higher on top measures of organizational excellence. In addition, companies with three or more women on their boards outperformed the competition on all measures by at least 40 percent.

It’s time to admit the obvious. …  Research broadly finds that testosterone can make men more prone to competition and risk-taking. Women, on the other hand, seem to be wired for collaboration, caution and long-term results.

According to a 30-year study of fund managers released last month by the National Council for Research on Women, female investors and professional money managers used more measured strategies. They didn’t take huge risks, but they also didn’t lose big. Their returns were consistent. Men took larger risks and wound up with results that varied more widely. A study by the French Fund association found that funds managed by women had more consistent results over one-year, three-year and five-year measurements. Female-managed funds weren’t usually top performers, but they were never at the bottom. …

Corporate America, take the first step toward economic recovery. Open your minds and offices to new ways of working and succeeding. Not because you are nice guys — but because it will help the economy and your bottom line.


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