Gender diversity and business
A chara, – Mark FitzGerald claims that “all the empirical evidence” suggests gender balance leads to improved performance (“Better gender diversity would boost the Irish economy”, Opinion & Analysis, July 31st).
If this is the case, perhaps he ought to have co-written his piece with a woman, and together they may have been able to cite a shred of some such evidence. – Is mise,
Dr GARETH P KEELEY,
Sir, – Mark FitzGerald in his piece on gender diversity states, “All the empirical evidence, and my own experience, indicate that teams perform best when they contain a high number of women”.
This assertion is in fact not true. Peer-reviewed scientific studies show that there is no link between the diversity of a team and/or board and that group’s performance. The prestigious Wharton University in 2017 did an analysis of the studies done on gender diversity and the performance of company boards. It found, “Rigorous, peer-reviewed studies suggest that companies do not perform better when they have women on the board. Nor do they perform worse. Depending on which meta-analysis you read, board gender diversity either has a very weak relationship with board performance or no relationship at all.” A similar analysis by North Western University highlighted by Forbes magazine in 2016 found something similar, stating “ ... for the most part, it seems that gender diversity in the boardroom has no effect on corporate outcomes (and, if it exists, it’s tiny)”.
As for the assertion that, had it been Lehman Sisters, things would have been different in 2008, Dr Edward Walsh, in a radio interview at the time, pointed out that the percentage of women on the boards in the financial services sector in 2008 was over 30 per cent. The highest of any sector, so this assertion is dubious to say the least. Sadly these tropes, just like the spurious gender pay gap, keep cropping up no matter how many times they get debunked.
If we are to improve our economy and our country then decisions we make should be based on the best scientific data available rather than feelings and pandering to the latest trendy cause. – Yours, etc,