Where male and female director views differ—and why it matters

PwC’s 2019 Annual Corporate Directors Survey: Gender-focused findings

The gender divide in the boardroom

The gender divide

Boardroom diversity continues to be a hot topic in corporate governance. Institutional investors, proxy advisory firms and even lawmakers are all focused on the topic. They’re pushing boards to make changes to increase their diversity. Most directors have gotten the message. And they recognize the value of board diversity.

We looked at results from our 2019 Annual Corporate Directors Survey by gender. They show how boardroom thinking can be reshaped by a more diverse set of directors and more diversity of thought. Here are some results that highlight where male and female director views differ—and how their different viewpoints can lead to more dialogue, new perspectives and changed mindsets.

Explore the gender-focused findings

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The value of diversity in the boardroom

Directors broadly recognize the benefits of diversity in the boardroom—94% agree that board diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom, 87% of directors say board diversity enhances board performance and 76% say it enhances company performance.

The gender divide in the boardroom
The gender divide in the boardroom

Social issues in strategy formation

Male and female directors often have differing views around whether social issues should be considered when forming company strategy. For example, 82% of female directors say resource scarcity should play a role in strategy discussions, compared to just 61% of male directors. And there is a big difference in opinion whether social movements like gun control and issues like income inequality should factor into strategy. Female directors believe they should be—by a much wider margin.

These topics are important to many stakeholders, and they can impact long-term shareholder value. Investors are also likely going to be engaging more around them. Boards with more female directors may help bring social issues like these and other ESG (environmental, social, governance) topics into the spotlight.

Women say yes to social issues in the boardroom
Women say yes to social issues in the boardroom

Factors that contribute to culture failings

Both male and female directors agree that the tone set by executive management and even middle management can contribute to problems with company culture. But female directors are more likely to say management’s focus on short-term results is to blame than male directors. They are also nearly twice as likely to blame the company’s compensation plans.

Weak corporate culture has been at the heart of many recent scandals. Hearing different perspectives on how culture permeates the company and where there might be breakdowns can help your board get ahead of a problem before it swells into a crisis.

When boardroom culture breaks down
When boardroom culture breaks down

Opportunities to improve talent management

Female directors don’t think their companies are doing quite as well as male directors do when it comes to talent management. In particular, they see room for improvement around developing and retaining talent—more so than male directors. And only 47% of female directors say their company does a good or excellent job recruiting a diverse workforce, compared to 67% of male directors.

The ability to attract and retain top talent is critical to staying competitive. And talent is another issue that investors are focusing on. Your board plays an important role overseeing talent management. Hearing different ideas of how the company is faring around talent can help surface shortcomings that might not have been noticed before.

Male and female directors grade talent
Male and female directors grade talent

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Paula Loop

Paula Loop

Governance Insights Center Leader, PwC US

Paul DeNicola

Paul DeNicola

Principal, Governance Insights Center, PwC US

Leah Malone

Leah Malone

Director, Governance Insights Center, PwC US

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