Create Positive Experiences

Companies with greater gender diversity in leadership roles lead the way

Companies with greater gender diversity in leadership roles and promotions, and with more women in highly compensated and revenue-producing jobs, generate a more positive experience for all employees throughout their organisations, according to a new analysis by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company. Additionally, companies with leadership structures that support diversity, such as having a chief diversity officer, are perceived to be more inclusive by employees.

The analysis links diversity practices with opinions from 1.3 million employees surveyed by Willis Towers Watson at 39 companies included in the 2020 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI). This is the second year that Willis Towers Watson has conducted this analysis cross-referencing GEI data. The employee attitude data are integrated with Bloomberg data on gender-related programmes and practices to examine linkages between gender-diversity policies and employee opinion. The GEI, which overall includes 325 companies, tracks the financial performance of companies that are committed to advancing women in the workplace through disclosure of gender-related data specific to female leadership, pay parity, inclusive culture, sexual harassment policies and pro-women branding.

Among the key findings from the analysis:

  • Companies with more women in executive and management roles deliver more positive employee experiences in terms of overall career growth, pay fairness, skill building, confidence in leaders and managerial support. Employees in these companies also express higher engagement and greater likelihood to stay. The advantages are especially apparent when at least one-third of women are in management and one-fifth are in executive ranks. For example, companies with at least one-fifth of women among their executives score 12 percentage points higher than those with fewer women executives on a measure of career growth (73% favourable versus 61% favourable). Likewise, companies with at least one-fifth of women in executive roles score 10 percentage points higher on measures of fair pay (62% versus 52%) and likelihood to stay with the organisation (71% versus 61%).
  • Companies with more women among their most highly compensated staff (top 10%) have more employees who feel they are part of an innovative, market-leading organisation and also have a voice in what they do. These companies more often provide health and wellbeing programmes for women and track retention of female clients, further demonstrating the company commitment to how employees experience the organisation.
  • Companies that promote more women generate more positive employee experiences of job fit, trust in leaders and support for inclusion overall. In addition, these organisations typically provide financial education and leadership development programmes for women.
  • Companies with diversity-focused executives, such as chief diversity officers, and leadership action plans for women are viewed by employees as more effective in providing an inclusive work environment that also gives employees a greater understanding of their goals and job roles. Companies with a CDO or equivalent executive have an 11-percentage-point advantage on inclusion (84% favourable versus 73% favourable) compared with companies without this role

“Companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to inclusion are continuing to see a payoff that benefits the entire organisation,” said Gaby Joyner, head of talent consulting, Great Britain, Willis Towers Watson. “In the current disruptive environment, greater gender diversity in leadership roles can help companies foster a much-needed employee experience of trust, support and the ability to have a voice — all of which are critical during these challenging times.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it increased investor interest in social factors — the ‘S’ in environmental, social and governance investing — like gender equality,” said Patricia Torres, head of Sustainable Finance Solutions at Bloomberg. “And it’s no surprise as research has shown that a diverse workforce drives innovation and performance, leading to stronger financial returns for investors. The data behind the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index further underscores this trend, showcasing how nurturing corporate environments can impact a firm’s bottom line.”

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