Author: Sylvia Burley
John Ensign, Kwame Kilpatrick, Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer, David Vitter, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and now we can add Anthony Weiner to the illustrious list of high profile men who have admitted to or been caught behaving badly while in public office. How different might our world be if the balance of power were tipped in favor of women? In other words, would we still see the same level of egotistical abuses of sex and power that exist today if women were leading the charge in business and in politics?
According to Christiane Amanpour, host of ABC’s This Week, “… you would be hard pressed to find a sex scandal involving female politicians which begs the question, if there were more women in politics and positions of power, would they change the way business is done from Washington to Wall Street and beyond?”
Torie Clarke, Former Asst. Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, believes that in politics and the public sector women are often seen as more honest, more sincere and harder working. “Men compete for the sake of competition, whereas women just want to get the job done,” says Clark. She adds that female members of Congress will use “we” to be more inclusive whereas men are more likely to use the singular “I”.
Claire Shipman, Co-Author of Womenomics, broaches the subject of the effect more women in power can have on a society in her book. According to Shipman, there are about half a dozen major studies that show the more women in senior leadership positions a company has the more money it makes. She says that a recent study done from 2000 to 2009 on women hedge fund managers show that they doubled the rates of success of their hedge funds versus their male counterparts.
Shipman also says that an economist at the University of Michigan who studied diversity in decision-making found that in every business decision, diversity led to better decisions being made. “A group of all white men are not going to reach the best decision,” she said.
Another study by Cambridge University showed that bond traders making risky decisions had higher levels of testosterone. “There is something about a group of men and testosterone making risky decisions that’s very real,” says Shipman.
In a previous interview with Amanpour, Christine Lagarde, French Finance Minister, explains it this way, “we (women) inject less libido…we don’t necessarily project our own egos into cutting a deal.”
Shipman says this is why countries like Norway, England, and France are now requiring more balance on corporate boards by mandating a forty percent minimum female membership.
Former First Lady of France, Cecilia Attias stated that it must be made easier for women to get to positions of power. “The world is half women half men and the government has to reflect the world,” says Attias.
Christiane says while traveling in Africa she was stunned by the progress in Rwanda which had a terrible genocide 16 years ago but is now “resurgent basically on the backs of the women”. She notes that half or more of the parliament and cabinet are women and in every area including health and economics, they are doing better than their neighbors.
“The shorthand of it is that women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody,” said Debbie Walsh, Director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “Women run because there is some public issue that they care about, some change they want to make, some issue that is a priority for them, and men tend to run for office because they see this as a career path.”
The point these women are making is intriguing and right on the money. The bigger conversation is not, as some bloggers have been prone to say on the subject, that men, and in particular white men, are being maligned, but that diversity is key to an organization’s success. This needs to be stressed again and again until we see more women and people of color in all aspects of government and corporate leadership.
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