More Women in the Boardroom May Improve Business Performance

March 9, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings (5 minutes)
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. fair (adj.) –  giving the same or equal opportunities to everyone  
Example: To be fair, the prize was distributed equally among all members of the winning team.

2. oversee (v.) – to manage or supervise something to make sure it is properly done
Example: Overseeing a growing company is not an easy task.

3. campaign (v.) – to take part in activities that strongly aimed at a specific goal
Example: The politician’s friends willingly campaigned for him so he would win the elections.

4. attribute (v.) – to consider something as a result of a certain cause
Example: Bad temper may be attributed to lack of rest.

5. quota (n.) – a limit of number or amount
Example: Employees must reach their sales quota to get enough profit.

Article (10 minutes)
Read the text below.

Including more women in corporate boardrooms means companies are not just fair,   they also get to find the best people to lead their businesses, says Helena Morrissey, a female CEO from London.

Morrissey personally experienced how it is still hard for a woman to reach a high company position. After having her first child, she was refused a promotion because the company was unsure if she would still be dedicated to work. Now a mother of nine, she is the CEO of Newton Investment Management, and oversees around $50 billion worth of funds under management and almost 400 employees.

As one of London's few female CEOs, Morrissey also heads the 30% Club, which campaigns for greater female representatives in British companies. She attributes Europe’s current financial problems to the too similar characteristics of company board members—Caucasian, mostly male, and around the same age. Morrissey believes that   for businesses to improve and gain more profit, there needs to be a change in the type of people who make the decisions.

Presently, only 15% of Britain’s FTSE 100 companies have female leaders, which is not enough, says British prime minister David Cameron. He believes there is a connection between good business and women leadership.

As an example, fashion brand Burberry has 3 females out of 8 members on its board, and despite UK markets spending less on retail, Burberry is performing very well. 

Other countries are adopting quotas in order to increase the number of women in companies’ boards. Cameron cites Norway as a leader in changing the face of the boardroom, because it has achieved its goal in making 40% female representation.

But Morrissey says company success has nothing to do with the number of women in high positions. The point she would rather stress is for women to be given as many chances as others to bring better business results.

Viewpoint Discussion (7-8 minutes)
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A 

      Why do you think there are still less female leaders today?
      Do you find any difference between male and female leaders? Why is that so?

Discussion B

      Do you think there are jobs suited only to one kind of gender? Why or why not?
      Would you take a job that is not typical of your gender? Please explain your answer.


March 9, 2012