Gender-Balanced Management Teams Perform Better

A new study finds teams managed by a balanced mix of men and women are more successful across a range of measurements.

The study, conducted by Sodexo, a provider of quality of life services, took place over a five-year period. It examines 70 entities across different functions representing 50,000 managers worldwide. Management teams from a diverse range of functions, ranging from top leadership to site management, were included.
Sodexo’s previous research suggests that the optimal outcomes are evidenced when management teams have a gender ratio of 40 percent to 60 percent women, and this ratio was used in the current study to define gender-balanced management.

Key Findings

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Improved employee retention. Gender-balanced entities had an average employee retention rate that was 8 percentage points higher than other entities.
  • Higher levels of employee engagement. Gender-balanced management reported an employee engagement rate that was 14 percentage points higher than other entities.
  • Better client retention. Gender-balanced entities had an average client retention rate that was 9 percentage points higher than other entities.
  • Safer workplaces. Gender-balanced entities saw the number of accidents decrease by 12 percentage points more than other entities.
  • Higher operating margins. Operating margins were 8 percentage points higher among more gender-balanced teams than other teams.

“These results add a new, compelling dimension to a growing body of research that demonstrates the business benefits of gender equity,” said Rohini Anand, PhD, senior vice president of corporate responsibility & global chief diversity officer for Sodexo. “The distinctive nature of the study, with its examination of both financial and non-financial performance indicators across so many levels of management and the pipeline to leadership, is a significant piece of the overall picture on importance of gender in the workforce for enhanced outcomes.”

Walking the Talk

In releasing its study findings, Sodexo notes that as a company it is breaking new ground in gender parity.
Today, women represent 50 percent of the company’s board. Thirty-two percent of senior leadership positions are held by women globally – a 6 percent increase at the very top levels since 2013. Middle management and site management positions are balanced at 46 percent. Currently, 59 percent of the total workforce works within gender-balanced management.
The company has committed to reach 40 percent women in senior leadership ranks by 2025 and has linked 10 percent of bonuses to this metric.

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