Having more women in charge leads to a better workplace for everyone – especially women.
So says a newly published study that examined hiring data from Italy, a country that implemented a quota for women on corporate boards in 2012, and compared it to data from Greece, which has no such requirements in place.
Ana Catalano Weeks and Audrey Latura, of the University of Bath and Harvard University, respectively, found a 50% increase in the attention paid to gendered workplace issues such as family care and paid leave. “[O]bserved changes are not window dressing,” the researchers wrote. “Companies developed new equality initiatives after the quota.”
One significant reason is that “women feel more comfortable raising ‘women’s issues’ when a greater number of women are present,” the pair of researchers notes, empowering women employees to push for better pay and policies that ensure work/life balance.
“We posit that the quota law raises awareness of gender inequality among men and women in company leadership, [and] changes existing perceptions about these issues,” they added.
This isn’t the only improvement that comes with an uptick in women in the C-suite. Other research efforts have shown that, when more women are in charge, companies are more profitable and more socially aware, among other benefits. Yet around the world, women are still underrepresented in the top tiers of most every industry. Here in the United States, for example, women occupy less than 25% of executive positions.
Changing this would benefit everyone, experts say – but especially women workers. “Globally, men’s greater political power derives from their greater economic power,” Weeks and Latura wrote in their joint study. “Through policies like quotas, the state can play an important role in reducing structural obstacles that hinder women’s economic and political equality.”