Yesterday it emerged that the number of women in boardroom positions at the113 companies listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange was stuck at a paltry six.
This is of course a derisory figure given the amount of hot air which government ministers and corporate Holland has generated about equal opportunities and smashing glass ceilings.
But equality issues aside, you would think that shareholders would be jumping up and down screaming for more women on the board – simply because it makes good economic sense.
Last year, an Erasmus University researcher showed that the average return on shareholders’ equity for firms with a woman on the board was 23.3%, compared with 13.7% for those bastions of the traditional grey suit.
EU competition commissioner and super-ambitious Dutchwoman Neelie Kroes has her own theories. She told the World Economic Forum in Davos last month she was ‘absolutely convinced’ that testosterone was one of the reasons the financial system had been brought to its knees.
‘In general terms, females are a bit less ego-driven and a bit more responsible than men,’ Kroes said.
So, given the current economic troubles, savvy companies should be flocking to pack their boards with female talent. Or shareholders should be demanding to know why they are not doing so.
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