Zille’s decision contrary to research

Harvard Business Review have just emailed me the story that is being run by most major French publications about how women on management teams have fared better than men in the current financial crisis.

Elle, Le Monde and many other publications have presented CERAM Professor Michel Ferrary’s research, which shows that companies with more women on their management teams have done better. I thought it particularly interesting in light of the debate about Helen Zille’s decision to pick an all-male team for her provincial cabinet.

Professor Ferrary’s research paper “When Gender Diversity Protects Stock Prices from the Crash” examines the relationship between women in leadership positions and the drop in share price since the beginning of the year.

Put simply, less women equals a greater drop in share price and likewise the more men the greater the drop in value. Professor Ferrary examined companies in the CAC40 and found that “firms with a highly feminised management like LVMH (56% female managers), Sanofi (44.8%) have gone down less than the CAC40. While stocks of more male-managed firms like Alcatel-Lucent (8.68% women), Renault (21.77% women) have fallen more than the CAC40”.

Contrary to the research, Zille believes her team can deliver. In her letter to the Argus she has chosen to attack the ANC only in areas where the DA is strong, women at party leadership level. She has not as yet addressed the diversity issue in her team.

Ferrary’s research says: “Several gender studies have pointed out that women behave and manage in a different way to men. They tend to avoid risk and to focus more on a long-term perspective. A larger proportion of female managers balances the risk-taking behaviour of their male colleagues.”

This points to diversity being the key to managing risk. The only question which remains in my mind is whether public service delivery is somehow different to managing a business.

Author: Dale Williams

Dale is based in Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa from where he maintains connections with people all over the world through his portfolio life.