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Professor Sheila Ellwood’s research shows that having women in top position, chairs or chief executives can be effective in helping boards meet the organisation’s social goals.

Her team from the University of Bristol’s Department of Accounting & Finance thoroughly studied the influence of women on the boards of directors of National Health Service Foundation Trusts. They found that females are more socially oriented than men, which results in a vast improvement in an organisation’s corporate social performance & further effectiveness in board decision-making, specifically focused on aspects related to social responsibility.

“This study, carried out in a context where women are well-represented on boards & where a woman often occupies one of the two most influential positions – chair or chief executive – has implications for gender diversity & gender targets on the boards of directors in business & other sectors.” – Professor Ellwood.

The Davies Review in 2011 recommended FTSE 350 companies put strategies in place to improve female representation on boards to 25% & report on progress. The Equality & Human Rights Commission reported last month that nearly 75% of FTSE 100 companies. Only 5% of FTSE 100 companies have a female CEO & 3% have a female Chair.

Professor Ellwood stated that it was a rather disappointing result & further mentioned that: “Our research indicates that companies would benefit from women not only being well-represented on boards but in the top positions if they want to achieve their social targets as well as their financial goals."

The research concludes that “Once significant gender diversity has been reached, more female executive & non-executive influence will neither damage nor recover financial performance or service quality.”

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