Why is gender-balanced leadership important?

Why is gender-balanced leadership important?

"Men are usually more focused and competitive, and have created a command and control hierarchy to get things done efficiently. Gross generalisations aside, women are better at seeing things in context, looking at the long term and caring for others. These two complementary skill sets would be ideal together – provided they're in balance."  

Carien van der Laan should know. Her executive search company, Van der Laan & Partners, has a policy of putting forward an equal number of men and women in search and selection processes. And it has the largest network  of women executives in the Netherlands.  

Always a believer in gender diversity Van der Laan – who holds an MBA from Harvard – now  as a rule puts forward 50% men and 50% women for every position, "pretending it is the norm" in order to normalise it.

"When I started an executive search firm for women, I did it because I didn't think it was fair that they were not being considered for positions for which they are qualified. Now I'm doing it because I see organisations run solely by the same sort of men are not doing so well."  

And evidence supports this claim: companies with women alongside men in the boardroom generate higher profits. Women "will bring to the table things which men are uncomfortable with", Van der Laan explains.  

"If you plunge a frog in scalding water, it will jump out right away. But if you slowly heat the water, it will stay in there until it cooks to death. Right now, there's an implosion of traditional corporate companies going on. Many of them are having to rethink and reinvent themselves. Women offer a different way of thinking and act from different priorities.”