Benchmarking board performance: 500 board reviews later

Unlock evidence-based insights into board performance

How women make the difference to board performance

One of the easiest and most effective ways to ensure good performance is to ensure gender balanced work groups. Board research by Insync and Board Benchmarking confirms that gender diverse boards think and perform differently to male dominated boards.

This and other global research point to a number of factors that contribute to better dynamics on gender-balanced boards, including:

  • women’s different experiences and perspectives contribute to fresh thinking and innovation
  • their interpersonal skills lead to more productive discussion and an increased focus on solving tough problems
  • women generally have greater diligence around meeting preparation and processes which increases rigour and accountability
  • greater unity is achieved through a focus on collegiality, responsiveness and reduced conflict

As evidence grows supporting the proposition that the presence of more women in senior leadership roles contributes to better organisational performance, the big question is how does women’s presence make this difference?

It seems that at least part of this performance differential is explained by “collective intelligence”, where a shared or group intelligence emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals. Research has identified collective intelligence as a critical factor in explaining differences in the performance of groups; more than 40% of the performance gap between one group and another can be contributed to collective intelligence.

Collective intelligence is a combination of the average social sensitivity of group members, equality of conversational turn-taking in group discussions and the number of women in the group. Women generally demonstrate greater social sensitivity and this is why their presence makes such a difference. When the representation of women in a group increases and nears a balance, the group’s performance increases. In gender-balanced situations, the benefits of collective intelligence are realised.

Download our research paper on the impact of gender diversity on board effectiveness.

A working paper by Karen Morley, co-founder of Insync’s specialist gender diversity division Gender Worx, discusses the benefits of collective intelligence in more detail. Download the paper below.

Want to know more about how to measure diversity and inclusion?

Learn more about how we help organisations with their diversity and inclusion change programs, using our four part framework.

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