Diversity at board level improves female and male engagement and enablement

12 October 2017 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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Gender diversity may have considerable impact on both male and female engagement and enablement at work, finds a new study of financial services firms. Both men and women in the management category were found to perform better in diverse organisations than in non-diverse ones.

According to recent studies, companies that are relatively diverse perform better than those that lack diversity. To better understand how male and female diversity affects engagement* and enablement** at management level at organisations, Korn Ferry researched 14 financial services firms, five of which had at least one female board member and nine that lacked female board members. The sector remains relatively male dominated in the UK.

Engagement and enablementThe research shows that engagement and enablement are relatively heavily affected by whether an organisation is diverse or not. Female engagement at organisations that are diverse stood at 73% for upper management, 71% for middle management and 72% for lower management, while at organisations that are non-diverse, engagement falls to 68% for upper management, 65% for middle management and 65% for lower management. For male engagement a similar pattern was noted, with lower management engagement in non-diverse workplaces falling to 61%.

In terms of enablement, a difference of 5% was noted for both male and female upper management, in favour of diverse organisations, while the difference stood at 10% and 8% for males and females respectively for middle management, in favour of diversity. Again, male enablement saw a more negative impact from non-diversity.

The key reason for the difference is not inherently clear. The research points to various possible reasons for the difference, including the creation of a more engaging atmosphere and / or that women are more attracted to organisations with higher engagement and enablement scores.

Improved outcomes, 1The research also asked respondents about various aspect of their work experience to gauge potential differences between more or less diverse workplaces. When asked about the companies’ ability to retain high-quality employees, both men and women in diverse organisations said that they were relatively positive, at 60% of respondents, compared to around 30% for non-diverse organisations.

Opportunities to achieve personal career goals also appear to be relatively better at more diverse organisations. Similarly, opportunities for learning and development, for both men and women, was found to be better at more diverse organisations.Improved outcomes, 2Particularly in upper management (95%), both men and women in diverse organisations report being given the opportunity to have their ideas adopted and put into use, compared to around 70% across non-diverse organisations. Both men and women were also given more authority at diverse organisations to carry out their job effectively. Inter-departmental work was also better supported across all management levels in diverse organisations. Access to the resources needed to complete their work was particularly good for both men and women in more diverse organisations.

Engagement and enablement driversThe research noted various factors that boosted the engagement and enablement of men and women at the organisations studied. Engagement was particularly impacted by being given a clear and promising direction; having confidence in leadership; being quality and customer focused; respect and recognition for work; being given development opportunities; and fair pay and benefits.

Enablement, meanwhile, was impacted by strong performance management; being given authority and empowerment; access to key resources; training; collaboration; and work, structure and process development.

The firm concludes, “Being aware of the positive relation between engagement and enablement and employees’ productivity, diversity could consequently affect an organization’s productivity in a favourable way. Future research is needed to identify the specific strategies and decisions made by more diverse boards that lead to more engaged and enabled work environments.”

* “Engagement refers to an employee’s commitment to the organization and willingness to go above and beyond the formal requirements of the job.”

** “Enablement refers to the extent to which the work environment supports the employee’s productivity and the extent to which the job fits the employee’s distinctive knowledge, skills, and abilities.”