The Leadership Gap

Will Women Ever Reach Parity With Men?

When an organization values women and men equally, the gender balance should be the same at the entry, middle, and senior levels. Yet women lag men in business leadership positions across the globe. Companies that exclude women from leadership lose out on half of the talent pool, and the profitability and innovation that diversity brings. 

Gender-Diverse Leadership Works for Companies

Our research proves that there is a connection between gender diversity on corporate boards and financial performance. Since 2004, Catalyst's Bottom Line series has shown that:

  • Companies that achieve diversity in their management and on their corporate boards attain better financial results, on average, than other companies.
  • Companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the least on return on sales by 16 percent and return on invested capital by 26 percent. 
  • Companies with sustained high representation of women—three or more women board directors in at least four of five years—significantly outperformed those with no women board directors.  

Take Action and Create Change

Diversify Your Organization

Leaders working to create diverse and inclusive workplaces in which women can advance must make the connection between diversity initiatives and organizational business goals. Effective business cases set the context for diversity and identify organizational challenges that must be addressed in order to create change. Catalyst’s Why Diversity Matters grounds the business case for diversity in solid research, with recent data to build an organizational business case for diversity and inclusion. 

The Catalyst Corporate Board Resource allows Catalyst member CEOs to sponsor board-qualified women and access our directory of these women when opportunities become available on their boards.

Think of Diversity Differently 

While D&I programs have been in place in many organizations for some time, these programs have not been completely successful at eliminating bias. It may be that talking about diversity has become workplace boilerplate, and real change is inadvertently left behind. We need to consider diversity differently. Effective organizational leadership is needed to further support the successful navigation of workplaces. Everyone has a role to play in workplace inclusion; trust is extremely important, and all employees are responsible for establishing and maintaining this trust. 

Catalyst’s Fostering Sponsorship Success Among High Performers and Leaders is a tool that can be used alone or as a companion to Catalyst’s report Sponsoring Women to Success. It is designed for current sponsors, those looking to become a sponsor, and protégés, and offers specific information, guidance, and tips on:

  • Why sponsorship is important
  • How to set yourself up for sponsorship
  • How to be an effective sponsor