Businesses perform better when more women are in senior management
A view from Sue Unerman

Businesses perform better when more women are in senior management

More women involved in football at senior levels would lead to better performance, writes Sue Unerman.

When there are more women involved in senior management of businesses there is better performance. Is football really that different?

There's plenty of research into the benefits of gender balance for business. In one recent study Grant Thornton has measured the discrepancy between the profitability of mixed boards and men only boards for listed companies in the US, India and Great Britain and declared that the former are significantly better. By $655bn.

It's well established that diversity delivers better judgement and better decisions at a senior level that benefits business.

Football is business as well as the beautiful game. Ronaldo has just become the first footballer to earn a hundred million euros. So big big business. Some more diversity at the top seems like it's overdue.

Graeme Souness writes that the future for improved international performance for England is club partnerships (six of the players in the sign that gained victory over Scotland last week were from Liverpool and Spurs).

He says it creates an understanding on the pitch, and that the existing friendships boost morale. Sounds like the kind of thinking that women are said to bring to board rooms.

Where are the women in football boards? There's just one woman chair of a premiere league side. And another one in the championship. Less than ten percent of the boards of the premiere league are women.

Where are the women on the training ground and on the pitch? There's nearly nine and a half thousand Uefa football coaches. Sixty-five are women. There aren't any women referees in the English Football League (unlike the Bundesliga and Italian league).

Women in Football is an association that exists to challenge the status quo in the sport, and not just for women footballers, but for all the women working in the sport.

Last week, as co-author of The Glass Wall, Success Strategies for Women at Work, I was invited on to the panel of an event chaired by Jo Tongue alongside Sue Ferns of Prospect, Simone Pound PFA head of equalities and League Managers Association CEO Richard Bevan to discuss sexism in the workplace.

The discussion was subject to Chatham House Rules so must remain undisclosed. However the statistics of gender equality are stark and the Women in Football association, which is doing great work, deserves and needs our support.

It wouldn't be difficult to measure the benefits of a better gender balance in senior management at the top level of top clubs. It's a business that gets a result every week in the season. How could such a results based business be so slow to try new management?

At international level it's not as if England, or Scotland has been doing so well in tournaments that you'd think "let's not change anything here, we're doing so well".

Do the statistics in senior management and the culture in the game appear similar to those that led to the formation of WACL, the women's advertising club? Great strides have been made since its foundation in 1923.

WACL exists so that its exclusive membership can inspire, support and network with each other. Women in Football would benefit considerably from the lessons that WACL has learned over the last few decades in particular, of standing up to the sacred cows of established practices and negotiating skilfully and successfully for change.

Women of WACL – the beautiful game and WiF need your support.

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom.
@sueu

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