Women in the C-suite

The current issue of the Harvard Business Review has a brief article which gives an insight into the importance of “mindsets.”

Researchers collected data from 389 publicly traded Fortune 500 firms seeking to measure female influence on the top management team.  Their standard for firm success was Tobin’s q or the current market value of the firm, divided by the replacement costs of its assets.

The findings were: the more intense the presence of women in the management team (share of positions; rank of highest woman; ranks of all women; length of their “to do” lists), the higher the firm’s customer orientation and Tobin’s q.

A different mindset for women was proposed by the researchers as the cause of firm financial outperformance – an instinct for customers, so to speak.  The researchers called this customer mindfulness “interdependent self-construal,” adding: “Women are more likely than men to see things in terms of relationships and to consider the perspective of others.  So, when in positions of influence in the C-suite, they often promote strategic decisions that reflect a higher focus on customers.”

This study challenges older stereotypes: “Many studies suggest that female executives engage in reduced risk-taking, but customer orientation may actually result in female executives pursuing riskier strategies.”

The full study will be available in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Marketing.