Enhanced decision-making, enhanced innovation Across all industries, nearly one in four companies reported supporting gender parity because of an expectation that it would enhance innovation, while a similar proportion cited a related reason, enhancing decision-making. The Energy and Media, Entertainment and Information industries find these rationales particularly appealing while the Consumer and Information and Communication Technology industries do not cite them as a strong motivating factor. Employing and promoting more women is one accessible way companies can bring more diverse voices into their decision-making and business development—allowing fresh thinking and disrupting business models from within before they are disrupted from without.23 Indeed, the dividends of those diverse voices are best reaped when inclusion is not predicated on pure assimilation.24 Similarly, companies in which women are more strongly represented at the board and at senior management levels have been shown to outperform those where they are not .
Reflecting gender composition of the customer base There is a strong correlation between companies’ perception of the gender composition of their customer base and the gender composition of their workforce across various industries (Table 12). Of course, existence of this correlation does not in itself reveal the direction of that relationship; whether a more gender diverse workforce allows businesses to tap into the female client base by developing a distinctive value proposition or, inversely, whether businesses with more female clients recruit more women. Some industries are substantially more focused on this rationale than others, specifically the Professional Services, Financial Services & Investors and Consumer industries. For example, on average, just over two in five respondents from the Financial Services & Investors sector emphasize reflecting their customer base as one of their main rationales for promoting gender parity. With good reason, too: globally, women controlled 64% of household spending and 30 trillion dollars of consumer spending in 2013—and this figure is predicted to rise by almost a third over the five years to 2018.26 As women’s workforce participation rises, they will gain further purchasing power through increased lifetime disposable income. The proportion of business-toconsumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) clients who are women should therefore be expected to rise, as reflected in our respondents’ projections. Most industries expect between nine and 14 percentage point growth in female B2B clients over the 2015-2020 period, particularly the Professional Services, Media, Entertainment and Information and Basic and Infrastructure sectors. Expected growth of B2C clients is lower but starting from a higher base. The Information and Communication Technology and Mobility industries expect the highest growth in their female B2C customer base, on average around six percentage points.