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Researchers tracked 163 companies over 13 years and discovered they became more open to change and less open to risk after women were hired into top management roles

Summary List PlacementA company with multiple women executives is more likely to be open to change, according to findings published in the Harvard Business Review on Tuesday. The study looked at several factors to determine the impact of hiring women for C-suite roles on business outcomes, including the rate of...

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Summary List Placement

A company with multiple women executives is more likely to be open to change, according to findings published in the Harvard Business Review on Tuesday.

The study looked at several factors to determine the impact of hiring women for C-suite roles on business outcomes, including the rate of appointments by gender; research and development, marketing, and design costs; and company earnings reports.

The research was conducted by Corinne Post, a professor at Lehigh University’s College of Business, Boris Lokshin, an associate professor at Maastricht University, and Chrisophe Boone, a professor at the University of Antwerp. 

163 multinational businesses were examined as part of the study. In terms of outcomes, firms saw a shift to risk aversion but an openness to change: “In other words, these organizations increasingly embraced transformation while seeking to reduce the risks associated with it,” said Harvard Business Review.

The researchers considered this first outcome to be a shift in the way companies thought about themselves. To quantify that shift, they pointed to a growth in R&D as opposed to mergers and acquisitions.

In effect, some takeovers, which the researchers say “could be described as a more traditionally masculine, proactive approach” gave way to a focus on work on research and new products and strategies within the company. Researchers stated that this change “could be described as a more traditionally feminine, collaborative approach.”

However, to benefit, the study found that women had to be integrated well into management teams. Notably, the study said that C-suite thinking was only impacted when female executives were added to top management teams that already had one or more women.

Researchers pointed to the value of diversity overall in making companies more open to change. Last year, Insider reported that companies were hiring more diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders despite hiring being down overall. Insider also noted that having a diversity, equity, and inclusion team made companies more likely to be perceived as industry leaders.

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