July 8 2020, CCXXXI

No. CCXXI; July 8, 2020




A new Australian study conducted by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Center in conjunction with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency claims “causal evidence that more women in leadership leads to better company performance, greater productivity and greater profitability.”  It counteracts almost 100 research studies that merely show a correlation between more women in senior corporate leadership and a company’s improved profitability, as opposed to causation.

The study, which examines data from 2013-2019, found:

  • An increase of 10 percentage points or more in female representation on boards leads to a 4.9% increase in company market value (equating to US$52.6 million)
  • An increase of 10 percentage points or more in share of female Key Management Personnel, or Senior Executive Officers, leads to a 6.6% increase in the market value of ASX-listed companies;
  • Furthermore, companies that reduced the share of women in top management tiers over time were more likely to underperform relative to their peers compared to companies that either increased the share of women or had no change (Bankwest Curtin Economics Center, “Gender Equality Insights 2020: Delivering the Business Outcomes,” June 2020)

Another report from U.S. researchers at Northwestern University have also found a link between women on boards of medical products companies and the quality of products.  The study found that companies with female directors announced recalls of products with the most serious, life-threatening defects 28 days earlier than at firms with all-male boards. The researchers also found that companies with female directors initiated recalls of less severe product defects hidden from regulators 120% more often. (Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Journal, “The Influence of Female Directors on Product Recall Decisions,” March 2020).  The message here is to have more women on boards for less risk exposure and better financial performance for a company.

If you’ve ever wanted to serve on a corporate board or wondered what is the role of a Board of Directors in the post-pandemic workplace, join four experienced directors from three continents share their views on a virtual Global Summit of Women forum moderated by Summit President Irene Natividad.  To view this panel, click here and sign-in to watch.


With schools, summer camps and child-care centers closed across much of the world due to the pandemic as businesses begin to reopen, working parents with children – especially women — are facing a quandary – work or family?  During the lockdown, family tasks fell overwhelmingly to women who became part-time teachers managing their children’s remote learning, full-time housekeepers, while continuing to meet their work responsibilities. As parents juggle working from home with child-care duties, they “are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.” (New York Times, “In the Covid Economy, you can have a kid or a job,” July 2, 2020)

As child-care centers remain closed or at partial capacity and as questions swirl around whether schools will reopen or stay open, significant numbers of women are opting out of work despite being aware of the long-term effect of disrupted careers and loss of income. In May and June alone in the U.S., 13% of women were forced to quit a job or reduce hours due to a lack of child-care. (“Washington Post, “Without childcare, there is no economic recovery,” June 26, 2020)

The issue is not only found in the U.S.  In Italy, which has few affordable options for public child-care, many women often leave the workforce following maternity leave.  In 2019, before the pandemic, 37,600 women with children voluntary resigned positions, compared to 13,900 fathers, citing the difficulty of “reconciling employment with care needs” as the main cause for their decision, according to data from INL, the national labor watchdog. Now, due to the coronavirus, the number of women leaving the workforce is exploding.

To assist with Italy’s economic rebound, the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said that retaining women in the workforce is key to getting the country back on track. The Italian government is considering several policy changes to promote employment and female entrepreneurship by assisting families with child-care costs and introducing incentives for women to return to work, such as a stipend for working mothers. (Politico, “Italy’s problem with working women made worse by coronavirus,” July 5, 2020) 

The pandemic has exacerbated long-time issues for working women such as child care. The question now is whether policy-makers in government and business will find lasting solutions which not only assist women but also help revive the national and global economies.


The media has widely reported that countries led by women, such as Germany, New Zealand, Iceland and Finland, have been faring better than others in combating COVID-19 in their countries. These women leaders tended to act quickly, close borders and businesses early, and implemented clear, thorough and well-executed plans from social distancing to gradual reopening.

Other women leaders at the state and local levels have also displayed decisive leadership in addressing this health crisis.  In India, the Health Minister for the State of Kerala KK Shailaja was recently recognized by the United Nations for her efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic in her State.  Acting before the first case of COVID-19 was found in India, Minister Shailaja had set up an aggressive program of testing, isolating, and contact tracing. “By drawing strengths on the decentralized public health delivery systems in the state, we activated our entire surveillance network the very next day after WHO’s statement of caution (on January 20),” she said in a recent interview. (Scroll India, “Coronavirus: UN honors Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja for her efforts to tackle pandemic,” June 26, 2020)

As a result of her actions, the Southern State of Kerala has had fewer than 50 deaths and 4,000 cases, while other states have fared much worse. In total, India has had over 700,000 cases nationwide and over 20,000 deaths.

This group of talented women in politics who have become role models for leadership in a crisis have the potential to change the narrative of what defines a ‘strong’ leader.  Unfortunately, there are too few of them, whether in the number of women Ministers globally – currently at 22% — or as women leading nations.  So, the inherent lesson from the actions of these women – elect more of them!


Don’t receive this e-newsletter regularly?

Subscribe by clicking here.

Global Summit of Women
1100 G St. NW, Ste. 700
Washington, DC 20005  USA
tel: 202-835-3713 / fax: 202-466-6195
email: summit@globewomen.com