According to a near two-decade research study of Fortune 500 companies (from 1980–1998) by Roy Adler, a Fulbright scholar and Professor of Marketing at Pepperdine University and one of a very select few awarded the distinction of Designated Fellow by the Academy of Marketing Science, there is a strong correlation between women in the executive suite and high profitability. In fact, within the 25 Fortune 500 companies with the best record of promoting women into high positions, profits were higher by an astounding 18-69% when compared to the median Fortune 500 firms within their same industry!
And to be sure, since different industries use different measures of profitability, the study included three measures of profitability to evaluate each of the firms – profits as a percent of:
- Stockholders’ equity.
On the measure of profits as a percent of revenues, the 25 firms outperformed the corresponding industry medians by 34%. The women-friendly firms averaged 6.4% while the average of their industry medians was 4.8%.
When taken individually, almost two-thirds of the subject firms outperformed their median counterparts.
On the measure of profits as a percent of assets, the 25 firms outperformed the industry medians by 18%. The women-friendly firms averaged 6.5 percent while the average of their industry medians was 5.5%.
When taken individually, 62% of the firms outperformed their median counterparts.
On the measure of profits as a percent of stockholders’ equity, the 25 firms outperformed the industry medians by 69%. The women-friendly firms averaged 26.5% while the average of their industry medians was 15.7%.
When taken individually, 68% of the firms outperformed their median counterparts.
Slicing the data
In fact, these results are even more interesting when the “slice of data” is modified from the top 25 firms as shown in the table below:
Percent by which companies exceed the industry median in terms of …
Profit as a % of >>> Revenue Assets Equity
Top 10 firms 46 41 116
Top 15 firms 35 25 85
Top 20 firms 34 19 78
Top 25 firms 34 18 69
In other words, the results of the “top 25 firms” featured in this study are quite conservative. The results are even more dramatic when a smaller “slice” of only the most friendly firms for women are highlighted.
Of course, it should be pointed out that “correlation” does not indicate or prove “causality.” There may be any number of reasons why the study results are as indicated.
However, despite the interpretation of the data, there is no denying that there is a positive correlation between the existence of larger numbers of women in the executive suite and higher than normal profitability within an industry.
Source: Women in the Executive Suite Correlate to High Profits by Roy D. Adler, Ph.D., Pepperdine University.