Research shows that women leaders are integral to inclusive, high-performing entrepreneurial teams. Gender diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones, demonstrating superior team dynamics and productivity, as well as improved financial performance. And the benefits are particularly evident when women occupy a significant proportion of top executive positions. Research published last year by Harvard University found that businesses with more women in leadership roles were more profitable. Despite this, press coverage abounds on the dearth of female company founders and women around board tables. There are just 7 female CEOs of FTSE 100 companies; the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity found that whilst the percentage of men starting new businesses increased 21% from 2013-14, the percentage of women starting new businesses stagnated.
Female CEOs receive only 3% of venture funding, and only 7% of partners at top 100 venture firms are women. But is the continuing under-representation of women in leadership roles a result of nature or nurture? Does education play a part? How important are mentors and positive role models? Is lack of confidence a factor? Professor Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at University of Cambridge is collaborating with Bailey Fisher Executive Search on a unique research project to identify the cognitive or environmental factors influencing female founders and C-level executives in pursuing their roles. By undertaking this research, will we be able to find solutions to impact positively on the number of female founders and women in leadership roles? We are hosting a reception in Cambridge on International Women's Day, Wednesday 8 March, when Professor Sahakian will launch the research.
The reception is by invitation only and hosted by Bailey Fisher Executive Search in partnership with Mills & Reeve and Grant Thornton. During the evening we will also hear from Poppy Gustafsson (CEO EMEA for Darktrace) and Simon Thorpe (UK Business Angel of the Year 2016/17) who will share their insights into the impact of gender diverse teams.