It is a widely accepted truth that increased diversity results in higher goal-achievement, and many business leaders have a genuine desire to achieve a better gender balance in their organizations.
According to McKinsey, the 25 most-equal companies have 15% higher probability to achieve above-average return on investment in their industry, and 55% increase in average income pre-tax.
In 2017, companies with a female top executive or chairman of the board delivered returns that were twice as high as companies without a female top executive or chairman of the board.
A "best-region" scenario for Western Europe shows a potential increase in GDP by NOK 2,100 billion by 2025, if all countries follow the country with the fastest increase of women in the workplace.
Norwegian leaders confirm the challenge, signifying gender balance as a clear competitive advantage and potential for the future - 78% of companies' top management puts gender balance as top priority - where only 24% of companies that implement measures for increased gender balance succeed. When it comes to women in leadership positions, Norway ranks lower than countries like Rwanda, Colombia and Nicaragua. Amongst Norway's 200 largest organizations, only 10% of all CEO positions are held by women, in addition to 11.5% of higher board positions in companies. A lack of holistic and long-term strategy, as well as knowledge concerning functional measures to change culture, prevents businesses from succeeding.
the road ahead
Studies by McKinsey show that the majority of men in companies do not believe in the obstacles that women face, and therefore, consider measures to counteract these barriers as mere "women-favoring". As much as 54% of men say that they will not implement such efforts. In order to change the corporate culture, one therefore depends entirely on the fact that men also understand the extent of the unconscious discrimination, and how corporate cultures often unconsciously facilitate men.
The reason why there are so few women holding top management positions in the Norwegian business community is complex. As a result, a single measure will not be effectful, but rather the sum of a whole.
One important component is culture, where unconscious attitudes and actions over time make a difference. The advantage of it being unconscious, is that it is often not wanted, and therefore, one has a higher possibility to do something about the awareness and willingness to change.