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There's a way for businesses to make 15% more money -- but a surprisingly low number of companies are doing it

Sadly, it’s not shocking news that there’s a lack of gender diversity in business.

A new study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics shows that, of the almost 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries surveyed, almost 60% have no female board members, just over half have no female senior executives or corporate board members, and less than 5% have a female CEO.

In the US, just 12% of board seats and 16% of executive positions go to women, the New York Times reports.

But for those who would say, “Who cares?” you might want to take note of another finding in the study: the companies that do embrace gender diversity make more money.

According to the survey, the presence of women on corporate boards and in senior management positions is directly tied to company performance. Profitable firms that moved from no female leadership to 30% representation in upper management saw on average a 15% increase in their net revenue margin.

While gender diversity policies have taken some hits of late, with a recent HBR report suggesting that they rarely make companies fairer and oftentimes backfire, the study out of the Peterson Institute suggests there could be significant payoffs from incorporating policies that
facilitate women rising through the corporate ranks.

What’s more, the research suggests that establishing a management pipeline of women shouldn’t begin once women enter the workplace — it should begin as early as childhood.

“The study results show that educational preparation matters,” study author Marcus Noland tells Business Insider.

He explains that in countries where girls score highly on maths assessments and where young women frequently major in subjects like business or finance there are also more female executives.

“So policies and practices that support high quality education for girls and do not shunt girls into ‘softer’ fields of study are part of the story,” he says.

The maps below illustrate women’s representation on corporate boards and in senior executive positions for all countries in which 10 or more companies of the 22,000 publicly traded companies surveyed are headquartered.

Peterson Institute for International Economics studyThe Peterson Institute for International Economics

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