Survey: Women Bring Radical New Perspectives to the Board

New York — March 13

Women bring a much needed source of emotional intelligence to the top table and as a result improving a corporate board’s ability to innovate, make consensual decisions and connect with customers and staff, according to a survey by Inspire, a business network for senior board level women supported by Harvey Nash.

The survey, completed by 326 board-level executives across 19 countries and part of Inspire’s “Return on Diversity” report, revealed that almost 64 percent believe women bring a greater level of emotional intelligence to the board, which in turn brings greater cultural understanding, better board consensus and greater creativity and innovation.

In addition the survey revealed that 92 percent believe that women bring new and different perspectives to the board, with participants’ comments ranging from how women took a different approach to risk through to how they offer greater pragmatism in decision making.

While most participants agreed greater emotional intelligence at board level had a positive impact on the “soft” attributes of the board, there was much less consensus about how this affected other attributes.

For instance, 60 percent of respondents believed having greater board emotional intelligence had either no affect or — in the case of one in eight — a negative effect on its ability to make bold decisions. This was even more pronounced when looking at speed of decision making where 68 percent believed emotional intelligence had no positive effect, 13 percent of which felt it was negative.

Carol Rosati, co-founder of Inspire and director of Harvey Nash, said: “At a time when companies are desperately seeking new ways to create revenue streams through innovation and entering new markets, the need for creative thinking and cultural understanding of customers and staff has never been greater. This survey shows that companies bringing on women onto boards can be one way they achieve great board emotional intelligence, and in turn better board effectiveness.”

The survey also looked at how to achieve greater female board membership. Respondents overwhelmingly rejected the idea of government quotas — only 6 percent supported this option — as they preferred the emphasis to be on companies to cultivate and develop their own female talent pipeline.

A further 29 percent of respondents believed the main barrier to female progression was attitudes amongst C-level male executives.

Source: Harvey Nash