How does business thrive in a disrupted world? Through women’s leadership at all levels

Across Europe, women represented 24% of corporate board members in 2015, according to Credit Suisse, up from a 14% average in 2010. It’s an encouraging sign that women are rising to the uppermost leadership positions.

But look more closely and the gains may seem superficial. The boardroom trend, driven in part by government quotas and voluntary targets, hasn’t necessarily translated into more women in senior executive roles.

Overboarding’ and creative moves like reducing the number of directors to meet quotas can mean that such percentage-based targets may actually pinch the leadership pipeline for women and reduce the pool of talent available for top-tier positions.

In a disrupted world, organisations need to take advantage of the most complete pool of available talent possible. I believe that women’s talent in particular will be needed as technological, demographic and social change accelerates. That requires more than just increased diversity on boards. We must ensure that women’s talent is harnessed and developed at all levels – from executive committees to entry level positions.

Diverse leadership improves performance

Diversity matters for performance – but ‘where’ that diversity sits on the org chart makes a difference. A study from the Peterson Institute of International Economics suggests that more women in corporate leadership indeed improves results, but the largest gains are not from more women board members but from greater numbers of female executives.

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