Barinder Sandhu Shares her Insights on Women in Leadership

How are corporations helping women recognize and realize their contribution to reach the top table?

Over the past 20 years, there has been an increased focus by corporations to: work “smarter”, to push a data driven culture such as key performance indicators (KPIs), balance scorecards as a means to drive organizational efficiency and effectiveness resulting in a positive contribution to the bottom line. Historically, the focus has been on maintaining a healthy portfolio of products/services layered with cost reduction strategies to ensure growth and sustainability. The value attributed on human capital has not always translated to providing equal development opportunities for high-potential leaders.

· What happens to high-potential mid-management women leaders; why does their reach for further progression get stalled within the organization?

· What happens to all of their creative ideas and tangible solutions that could make the bottom line even healthier?

· Have organizations been “selective” in the way they recognize and realize human capital data?

Independent research conducted in the UK, US and Australia have shown the significant benefit with having women in executive leadership roles:

· A London-based research showed that companies where the executive are at least a third women tend to have a profit margin more than 10x greater than those without.

· An Australian-based study reported that companies that appointed a female Chief Executive Officer (CEO) saw a 5% increase in their market value, (average of $79.6M). In addition to a 6.6% increase ($104.7M) rise in their market value, when company’s appoint women into key management positions.

· A study of ~22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries showed that women in executives positions lead to increased profitability. An increase in women from 0% to 30% is associated with a 15% increase in profitability.

Why are companies not recognizing the value that skilled women bring to the top table? The research data shows increased profits and women are better for business, yet why is this not enough to justify a push for a greater number of highly qualified, motivated, high-potential mid-management women to be promoted to executive leadership positions?

Change is happening though. A record number (37) of female CEOs (7.4%) are running America’s Fortune 500 corporations. Yes, the number is growing as slow as molasses and there is a long journey ahead. We must continue to push for equal opportunity, but we must also note the change. There are some industry segments that have recognized the true value women bring to the top table and have pushed for diversity in historically male-dominated sectors (such as banking):

· Jane Fraser — a deeply experienced women who is the first women to be appointed the CEO of Citigroup (US’ third-largest bank).

· Alison Rose — first woman CEO to lead one of Britain’s biggest banks, Royal Bank of Scotland.

· Indra Nooyi — was first Indian American former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. She has consistently been ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women.

Now more than ever, as we develop much needed action plans to support a post COVID-19 recovery strategy, we have a real opportunity to improve gender diversity at a leadership level. Let’s seize the opportunity!

Barinder Sandu — CEO of Evergreen Pharma Solutions — Brampton, Ontario.