While opinions on diversity are wide-ranging, the facts are pretty clear. Study after study has shown women to be more risk-averse than men, across a range of activities, including the Wall Street businesses of investing and trading. Study after study has shown that women place greater emphasis on interpersonal relationships, and on nurturing them, than do men. And studies show that female managers are less focused on winning in the short term and are more long-term-oriented than their male counterparts.
Do any of these sound like qualities the big banks could use more of?
Perhaps as a result of the complementarity of differing approaches of men and women, numerous studies, including the annual Women Matter surveys by McKinsey & Co. and research by Catalyst, show that more diverse management teams are more successful management teams; they deliver higher returns for shareholders across industries, including banking. Academic research indicates that more diverse teams outperform even more capable management teams, a real “wow” of a finding.
How can this be? Because adding one more PhD in applied mathematics to a team already full of them has much less effect than adding someone with expertise in, say, managing people or in IT systems. If diversity of color and gender is a proxy for diversity of experience, then adding that diversity to management teams helps bring different perspectives to the table.